Hilton Profit Rises as Travel Recovers

Hilton Hotels Corp. (HLT) on Monday said third-quarter earnings almost doubled as business and leisure travel increased, filling its big urban hotels.

Net income rose to $61 million, or 16 cents per share, from $34 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts, on average, expected 13 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue rose 9 percent to $1.03 billion and revenue per available room (revpar), a key measure of health in the lodging industry, rose 7.3 percent at owned hotels open at least a year.

Looking ahead, the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Hilton said it expects 2004 earnings per share in the "high 50-cent range," in line with analyst estimates of 58 cents a share.

Hilton expects 2004 revenue of $4.14 billion and a revpar increase of 7 percent for the full year. Analysts expect 2004 revenue of $4.15 billion.

For 2005, the company expects earnings in the "low to mid 70-cent range," on a revenue per room increase of 5 percent to 7 percent. Analysts expect earnings of 74 cents a share for 2005.

Hilton, best known for its high-end flagship hotels also owns the Hampton Inn (search) and Embassy Suites (search) chains. It develops, owns, manages or franchises about 2,100 hotels, resorts and vacation ownership properties. Its other chains include Doubletree and Homewood Suites.

The chain said it plans to add 122 hotels and 16,000 rooms to its system in 2004, and 130 to 150 hotels, and 16,000 to 20,000 rooms in 2005.

Hilton shares were off 17 cents at $19.44, on the New York Stock Exchange (search).