Hotel giant Marriott International
However, a tepid earnings outlook and the anticipation of a spinoff of Marriott's timeshare business weighed on investors, sending shares down by almost 7% since earnings were reported.
Decoding the numbers
Higher franchise and base management fees contributed to top-line growth, which went up to around $2.8 billion, from $2.4 billion in the year-ago quarter.
All the key industry parameters of performance grew for Marriott. While worldwide comparable RevPAR grew 7.7% this quarter, strong international growth led to a 21% increase in total international RevPAR. The international average daily rate grew 10.4%.
Except for the Middle East and Africa and a sluggish North America, all other regions witnessed high growth. Increasing overseas revenue is a positive sign, given the way hotel players are expanding globally.
Higher revenues helped Marriott's bottom line come in at $135 million, up from $119 million in the year-ago period. The total property count for Marriott went up by 172 this quarter, to 3,661, while the number of rooms went up by more than 4%, to 633,704. Overall, the numbers signal how the hotel industry is recovering, putting the ghosts of the slump behind (at least, from a global perspective).
Marriott's total debt went up to $2.9 billion, from about $2.8 billion in the year-ago quarter. But at the same time, cash balances have risen to $117 million, from $100 million, and the interest coverage ratio has increased from 5.1 times to 6.5 times in this quarter.
The timeshare business, which develops and sells fractional ownership and residential properties, witnessed a decline in contract sales from the year-ago quarter. The company will spin off this vacation club business into a separate company by year's end. This move looks positive (although timeshare contributes more than 10% of total revenues), as it will enable Marriott to focus on its core hotel business, while becoming a public pure-timeshare player, too. Rival Wyndham Worldwide
Reaching out globally
Most players continue to expand globally, with the focus on emerging markets. InterContinental Hotels
While also adding hotels in India, Marriott recently set up a dedicated reservation center in China, with plans of adding 21 new hotels in China by 2015. Marriott also added the 71st country to its portfolio recently by announcing its first hotels in Iraq.
The Foolish bottom line
Marriott is expecting worldwide RevPAR growth of 6% to 8% for 2011. This could be offset by timeshare spinoff costs, which have not been included in the third-quarter outlook, but management recognizes that this could occur.
With Marriott's recent 14% dividend increase and the announcement of a stock repurchase program, in addition to Smith Travel Research's positive forecast for the hotel industry, it could be worthwhile watching this stock in the long run.
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Neha Chamaria does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.