Marriott profit rises, stock drops

Marriott International Inc. says that its second-quarter profit rose 11 per cent on higher demand for rooms. However, its stock dipped on signs that growth in the lodging industry may be cooling off. Full statement
Marriott International, Inc. reported second quarter 2007 adjusted net income of $229 million, an increase of 26 percent, and adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.57, an increase of 36 percent.

Adjusted results exclude the impact of the company’s synthetic fuel business and the impact of the previously announced leveraged Employee Stock Ownership Plan (“ESOP”) settlement agreement reached in June 2007 with the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and the Department of Labor. The company’s EPS guidance for the 2007 second quarter, disclosed on April 19, 2007, totaled $0.51 to $0.55 and similarly excluded the company’s synthetic fuel business and the ESOP settlement.

Reported net income was $207 million in the second quarter of 2007 compared to $186 million in the year ago quarter. Reported EPS was $0.51 in the second quarter of 2007 and $0.43 in the second quarter of 2006. The company’s synthetic fuel business contributed approximately $32 million after- tax ($0.08 per share) to 2007 second quarter earnings and $4 million after-tax ($0.01 per share) to 2006 second quarter earnings. The ESOP settlement resulted in an after-tax charge of $54 million ($0.13 per share) in the 2007 second quarter.

J.W. Marriott, Jr., Marriott International’s chairman and chief executive officer, said, “Marriott’s performance in the second quarter was impressive. Transient demand was strong and strengthened among leisure travelers. A continued favorable pricing environment, combined with unit growth, increased property-level revenues. Using technology and leveraging system size to improve efficiency, hotel profits continued to climb. In the second quarter worldwide company-operated house profit per available room increased 10.4 percent and Marriott’s fee revenue increased 20 percent. The combination of our focus on the bottom line, and a culture of service excellence delivered great returns for our owners and Marriott.

“We continue to build our company for the future. In the second quarter, we announced our partnership with Nickelodeon and Miller Global Properties, LLC to co-develop a breakthrough new lodging resort brand and concept for travelers seeking fun and adventure, ‘Nickelodeon Resorts by Marriott.’ We didn’t stop there; we also teamed up with the pioneer of the lifestyle boutique hotel, Ian Schrager, to create the first truly global boutique lifestyle hotel brand on a large scale. We expect these brands to attract new guests and offer exciting opportunities for growth.


“While launching new concepts we are also keeping our eyes on our flagship brands. Last month, we launched a new advertising campaign focusing on the competitive advantages of our industry leading extended stay brand, Residence Inn, such as spacious rooms, full kitchen, great outdoor space and top service. With over 525 hotels, Residence Inn remains the preferred brand for long-term stay guests.

“Investment in our hotels by owners and franchisees continues to grow. Renovation activity is at record levels and we are opening new hotels around the world. We expect to open nearly 30,000 rooms this year and an additional 30,000 rooms in 2008. We have great reason to be excited about the future,” said Mr. Marriott.

In the 2007 second quarter (12 week period from March 24, 2007 to June 15, 2007), REVPAR for the company’s worldwide systemwide comparable properties increased 7.5 percent (6.4 percent using constant dollars). Average daily rates rose 7.4 percent (6.3 percent using constant dollars) and occupancy increased slightly, to 76.0 percent.

In North America, REVPAR at the company’s comparable managed hotels increased by 5.6 percent during the quarter. REVPAR at the company’s comparable managed North American full-service hotels increased by 6.4 percent. Compared to the first quarter, weekday demand remained strong and weekend demand rebounded. REVPAR growth was particularly strong in Manhattan, Dallas, Denver and Chicago.

In the 2007 second quarter, international company-operated comparable REVPAR increased 15.5 percent (9.6 percent using constant dollars) including a 14.2 percent increase in average daily rates (8.4 percent using constant dollars) and a nearly 1.0 percentage point improvement in occupancy to 76.5 percent. Strong conference and exhibition business in Moscow drove REVPAR in that city up 46 percent. In the Middle East, REVPAR increased 17 percent as demand was robust, particularly in Dubai and Red Sea locations. Demand in Asia continued to increase, with REVPAR up 13 percent (nearly 9 percent using constant dollars). Travel to Marriott’s six hotels in Beijing was strong as that city gears up for the 2008 Olympics. Marriott expects to have 11 properties open in Beijing in time to greet the arrival of the Olympic torch in August 2008. India also remains a vibrant and growing market, with REVPAR in the second quarter up 40 percent (35 percent using constant dollars).

Marriott added 52 new properties (6,976 rooms) to its worldwide lodging portfolio in the second quarter, including the 206 room Courtyard and 250 room Ritz-Carlton hotels in Tokyo, Japan. The spectacular Ritz-Carlton property sits atop the tallest building in Tokyo. Twenty-two properties (3,158 rooms) exited the system during the quarter, primarily at Marriott’s request, due to quality issues at those hotels. At quarter-end, the company’s lodging group encompassed 2,898 lodging properties for a total of 521,240 rooms.

MARRIOTT REVENUES totaled $3.2 billion in the 2007 second quarter, an 11 percent increase from the same period in 2006. Base and franchise fees rose 10 percent to $249 million as a result of unit growth and strong REVPAR improvement. Incentive fees soared 51 percent to $116 million, driven by higher property-level house profit margins and $15 million of incentive fees that were calculated based on prior period results, but earned and due in the second quarter of 2007. Also included in incentive fees was $3 million associated with business interruption insurance proceeds at two New Orleans hotels.

Strong room rates, higher food and beverage profits and improved productivity drove margins higher during the quarter. Worldwide company- operated comparable house profit margins increased 160 basis points and worldwide house profit per available room grew 10.4 percent. House profit margins for North American company-operated properties grew 130 basis points. House profit per available room increased 9.3 percent for North American full- service hotels and 7.9 percent for North American limited-service hotels.

Owned, leased, corporate housing and other revenue increased 15 percent in the second quarter, to $312 million, primarily driven by receipt of termination fees totaling $6 million and strong REVPAR at owned and leased properties, including the new Ritz-Carlton property in Tokyo, Japan.

Timeshare sales and services revenue increased 22 percent in the 2007 second quarter, primarily driven by the company’s Maui, Las Vegas and Frenchman’s Reef resorts, which reached higher reportability thresholds in the quarter. The new resort in St. Kitts also reported strong sales. Timeshare revenues also include $45 million of mortgage note sale gains, $5 million higher than the year ago quarter.

Timeshare sales and services revenue, net of direct expenses, increased 49 percent, to $122 million, reflecting higher note sale gains and higher financial reportability of sales.

Contract sales for the company’s timeshare, fractional and whole ownership projects, including sales made by joint venture projects, decreased 24 percent, reflecting tough comparisons to a highly successful launch of the Ritz-Carlton’s whole ownership projects in Kapalua Bay and San Francisco in the 2006 second quarter. In addition, the newly introduced Marriott Vacation Club resort in Maui benefited from considerable trade-up from existing owners in the 2006 quarter. Excluding these three projects, contract sales increased nearly 5 percent in the 2007 second quarter.

The company began sales at a timeshare resort in Marco Island in the 2007 second quarter and expects to begin sales at the Ritz-Carlton whole ownership project in Kauai, Hawaii in the second half of 2007.

General and administrative expenses in the 2007 second quarter totaled $207 million and included $35 million of expenses associated with the ESOP tax settlement.

SYNTHETIC FUEL operations contributed approximately $0.08 per share of after-tax earnings during the 2007 second quarter, compared to $0.01 in the year ago quarter. Higher synthetic fuel earnings reflected increased production levels, partially offset by a $3 million mark-to-market expense associated with oil price hedges (recorded as an offset to interest income). Excluding the impact of the synthetic fuel operations and the ESOP tax settlement, the company’s tax rate would have been 34.8 percent.

GAINS AND OTHER INCOME totaled $12 million (excluding $16 million of expenses related to synthetic fuel) and included $5 million of gains from the sale of real estate and $7 million of preferred returns and other gains and income. Prior year’s second quarter gains included $9 million of gains from the sale of real estate, $29 million of gains from the sale of the company’s interest in four joint ventures and $4 million of preferred returns and other income. The 2006 gains were partially offset by a $37 million non-cash charge to adjust the carrying amount of a straight-line rent receivable associated with a land lease which was subject to a purchase option.

INTEREST EXPENSE increased $22 million to $52 million, reflecting $13 million of interest expense associated with the ESOP settlement as well as higher interest rates and higher average borrowings, including the senior debt issued late in the 2006 second quarter.

INTEREST INCOME totaled $6 million during the quarter, down from $12 million in the year ago quarter, primarily driven by loan repayments since the second quarter of 2006 and a $3 million mark-to-market expense associated with oil price hedges for the synthetic fuel operations.

At the end of the 2007 second quarter, total debt was $2,284 million and cash balances totaled $151 million, compared to $1,833 million in total debt and $193 million of cash at the end of 2006. The company repurchased 8.7 million shares of common stock in the second quarter of 2007 at a cost of $402 million. Year-to-date, through July 10, 2007, the company repurchased 21.0 million shares of common stock at a cost of $980 million. The remaining share repurchase authorization, as of July 10, 2007 totaled 13 million shares.

On June 7, 2007, the company reached a settlement agreement with the IRS and Department of Labor regarding the ESOP feature of Marriott’s Employees’ Profit Sharing, Retirement and Savings Plan. The settlement resulted in an after-tax charge of $54 million ($0.13 per share) in the company’s second quarter. Approximately $35 million of the expense related to excise tax was reflected in general and administrative expenses, $13 million of interest on the excise tax was recorded in interest expense and approximately $6 million was recorded as provision for taxes. As a result of the settlement, the company will make cash payments to the U.S. Treasury and state tax jurisdictions of approximately $220 million in the second half of 2007.


For the full year 2007, the company expects North American REVPAR to increase 6 to 7 percent. Assuming a 150 to 200 basis point improvement in house profit margins for the year and nearly 30,000 new room openings (gross), the company expects total fee revenue of $1,405 million to $1,415 million, an increase of 15 to 16 percent.

The company expects timeshare sales and services revenues, net of expenses, will decline approximately 3 to 6 percent in 2007, while contract sales are expected to increase roughly 5 percent.

The company expects gains and other income to total approximately $60 million in 2007, excluding the impact of the synthetic fuel business.

Given the risk created by the volatility in oil prices, the company’s overall 2007 earnings guidance does not include earnings from the synthetic fuel business.

Assuming roughly $1.5 billion of share repurchases during the year, the company believes that net interest expense will range from $125 million to $135 million for the full year.

The company estimates North American REVPAR will grow 6 to 7 percent in the third quarter and 7 to 8 percent in the fourth quarter. The company also expects property-level house profit margin growth of 150 to 200 basis points in the third quarter.