MeriStar Hospitality Corporation (NYSE: MHX), the nation`s third largest hotel real estate investment trust (REIT), yesterday announced that its Board of Directors has declared a common share dividend of $0.01 per share for the 2002 first quarter.
The company reduced its common share dividend from $0.505 to $0.01 per share in the 2001 fourth quarter as a result of the sluggish economy and precipitous falloff in travel following the September 11 terrorist attacks. The common dividend is payable April 30, 2002, to common shareholders of record on April 15, 2002.
The company announced in January that it expected to retain the dividend at the $0.01 level through the second quarter. ``That assumption was based on a scenario of continued economic softness in the 2002 first half and a modest recovery in the second half,`` said Paul Whetsell, chairman and chief executive officer. ``So far this year, we have seen some gradual improvement, but considering the fragile economic climate, we want to maintain a conservative approach toward the dividend. Based on our forecast for 2002, we still anticipate increasing the dividend to $0.25 for the third quarter, depending on our operating results, capital expenditure requirements, the economic outlook and IRS dividend payout requirements for REITs.``
Washington, D.C.-based MeriStar Hospitality Corporation owns 112 principally upscale, full-service hotels in major markets and resort locations with 28,597 rooms in 27 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. The company owns hotels under such internationally known brands as Hilton, Sheraton, Marriott, Westin, Radisson and Doubletree. For more information about MeriStar Hospitality Corporation, visit the company`s Web site: www.meristar.com.