Marriott Profit Rises Thanks to Travel Uptick

Marriott International Inc. (MAR), the largest U.S. hotel operator, on Thursday said quarterly profit, excluding one-time charges, rose as an upswing in travel drove room rates and occupancy higher.

The Bethesda, Md.-based company said second-quarter net income, including special items, fell to $138 million, or 59 cents a share, from $160 million, or 67 cents a share, a year earlier.

But excluding the one-time items, such as charges related to the acquisition of hotels and joint ventures from CTF Holdings, the hotel chain earned 75 cents a share.

Analysts, on average, were expecting 77 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Marriott spokeswoman Laura Paugh said most analysts did not account for the charge of 26 cents a share related to CTF Holdings. On that basis, Marriott earned 85 cents a share, she said.

Shares fell $1.72, or 2.4 percent, to $68.68 on the New York Stock Exchange (search).

Marriott shares have risen almost 58 percent since April last year, when the hotel chain began raising room rates for the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which were followed by a multi-year slump in travel.

Marriott, whose brands include Ritz-Carlton (search), Renaissance and Fairfield Inn, said revenue rose 11 percent to $2.7 billion, beating analysts' estimates of $2.59 billion.

Revenue per available room, a key measure of health in the lodging industry, rose 10 percent at Marriott-operated North American hotels open at least a year. That growth was driven by an 8.5 increase in average daily room rates.

Looking ahead, Marriott said it expects 2005 earnings of $2.68 a share to $2.78 a share, including one-time charges related to new bedding and the CTF deal.

In April, Marriott, Sunstone Hotel Investors (search) and Walton Street Capital LLC (search) agreed to buy 32 hotels and joint ventures from CTF Holdings Ltd. in a $1.45 billion deal.

Just earlier this month, Marriott had forecast full-year earnings of $2.80 to $2.90 a share, including one-time items. That forecast did not include the CTF charge, Paugh said on Thursday.

Analysts have expected $2.91 a share for the full year..

For the third quarter, Marriott expects earnings of 61 cents a share to 65 cents a share. Analysts expect 61 cents a share.

The hotel operator also said it expects 2005 revenue per room to grow 8 percent to 10 percent in North America, driven mainly by higher room rates.