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In preparation for HOT’s Q1 earnings release tomorrow, we’ve put together the pertinent forward looking commentary from HOT’s Q4 earnings call and subsequent conferences.


POST EARNINGS COMMENTARY

  • "The fact of the matter is New York is weak right now.
    • "It’s been a long, hard winter in New York."
    • "New York came back earliest and – also from a group perspective, and my sense is that people were staying away from resorts from a group perspective because of the residual AIG effect that we were still living under. And I think that that’s changed and shifted some of the business from New York."
    • "There’s been substantial incremental capacity into the New York market over a short period of time, which is a bit of an anomaly relative to the overall supply dynamic and demand dynamic."
  • "China is 75 hotels for us at this moment. That makes it our second largest country. But what’s really remarkable I think is the fact that we have another 85 hotels that are under construction, meaning we’re building more hotels today in China than we have open. And just the hotels that we’re opening in China would be our second largest country therefore."
  • "Our target is to be at least 80% fee-driven. Today, over 60% of our fees come from markets outside of the U.S."
  • "We have three select serve brands between Four Points by Sheraton, Element and Aloft. And that’s I think where the biggest opportunity is for us in the sense that we’re still substantially below scale in that area, and see that as a growth opportunity on the one hand. And on the other hand, still is something that we continue to get after."
  • "Yeah. Well, let me answer directly the asset sale timing issue first. Hotels today, simply put, are still trading at below replacement cost, and so this isn’t a great time to be selling a lot of hotels if you don’t need to. And the majority of our hotels still today are in North America and in Europe. In both of those markets, there’s not only been very little capacity added relative to trend line over the last ten years, but as would astound none of you in the room to know that there’s very little construction lending today. And therefore, the prospect of more capacity being added over the gestation period of developing a hotel, which is three to four years, is going to be small. And so we’re already seeing occupancies that feel more mid cycle than early cycle. Although judging from the unemployment numbers and being a student of business cycles, it still feels like we’re earlier rather than later, and probably early in a long cycle up, not early in a short cycle up, particularly given the trajectory. Therefore, I believe there’s still an opportunity either to find buyers who have that same belief that we’re going to go from substantially below trend line ADR to substantially above. And if we have buyers that share that perspective and are willing to provide us with that value, then we sell. If not, then I’ll wait for the market to improve. As you pointed out, we don’t need cash right now. So we sell from a position of strength."
  • "So more on the pipeline. Our pipeline is 85,000 rooms at the end of the fourth quarter. On our existing base of rooms, that’s roughly 28% implied growth, assuming all of those hotels are built – larger than any of our peers. A key differentiator in our pipeline is, it’s more international than any of our competitors, roughly 80% international, 20% U.S. Whereas, you can see from the chart, Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott are much more skewed towards the U.S."
  • "So we expect supply in 2011 to grow in North America at sub 0.5%, which is substantially below trend. And if you look at the decade from 2001 to 2010, supply grew closer to 1.5% per year. So we’re entering this up cycle with less excess capacity than the industry has ever seen before."
  • "Developed markets business, most of our fees in the developed markets are driven off of the top line, roughly three-quarters. So as RevPAR accelerates and you have a continued imbalance between supply and demand, we expect to see favorable growth in our fees in these markets."
  • "I think offsetting somewhat that reduction in earnings from timeshare is the fact that we cut out almost $100 million in SG&A in the ‘08, ‘09 time period. And we expect those cost cuts to be largely sustainable. So I think that does offset much of the reduced SVO earnings impact."
  • [gas impact] "But I’d also point out gas prices were $3.50 most of the year for us in Connecticut. Now they’re closer to $4. I don’t hear the same type of hemming and hawing that I did in 2008 when gas hit those levels. So, again, people adjust their expectations somewhat. But certainly oil moving up beyond these levels is not a positive for the broader economic picture."

4Q YOUTUBE

  • "Our outlook reflects this normal recovery with global REVPAR growth of 7% to 9% at company operated hotels in local currency and 100 basis points higher as reported in dollars, 150 to 200 basis points of margin improvement at owned hotels, 10% to 12% fee growth, a small increase at SVO, giving us a 2011 EBITDA range of $975 million to $1 billion and an EPS range of $1.55 to $1.65. One point of REVPAR impacts EBITDA by approximately $15 million. One point of shift in ForEx rates globally relative to the dollar impacts EBITDA by $4 to $5 million. We expect to open 70 to 80 hotels globally in 2011 with more than half outside the U.S."
  • "We are excited about the next major W opening in Europe, the W Leicester Square in London this February, which is also a leased hotel. Pre-opening costs associated with this opening will depress reported owned/lease hotel earnings in Q1. Q1 is a seasonally small quarter in Europe and the trends for the year will likely become more evident as we get into the second quarter. Like the U.S. with low supply growth and rate improvement, we expect 2011 to shape up as the second year of a normal cyclical recovery. As we have for the past few years we have hedged about 50% of our Euro exposure."
  • "Several significant renovations will be undertaken in 2011 including the Grand in Florence which we are converting to a St. Regis, the Alfonso 13 in Sevilla, the Westin Gaslamp, the Sheraton Kauai and other smaller projects. Over an extended timeframe our maintenance capital spend at owned hotels has averaged 7% to 8% of gross operating revenue ranging from 5% when the cycle turns down to highs of 10% when the cycle turns up. We expect to be at the high end of the range for the next couple of years."
  • "Our Monday to Thursday volumes are driving occupancies in the 90% range in most major metro markets. Our customers are telling us that they’ll continue to travel in 2011 in search of precious growth for their own businesses."
  • "Group pace for 2011 also improved sequentially through 2010. So as a result, we’re beginning 2011 with pace up double digits, significantly ahead of last year’s starting point. As expected for some time, booking windows are now slowly starting to lengthen. Nonetheless, strong bookings and improving sales will translate into revenues that are quickly rebounding towards 2007 levels."
    • "On group pace, at this point it’s driven, as you would expect because of the business that was booked in 2010, more by volume than rate. But as the new business is coming in, the mix is changing more to rate."
    • "As you look at group pace in 2012, that’s also pacing positive relative to 2011."
  • "The real story in 2011 will be about rising rates. Corporate rate negotiations are being finalized, and they’re still on track to increase in high single digits. The mix of room categories and clients should also support our ADR growth. Business travelers power 75% of our revenues, but leisure travel is also an important part of our business especially at resorts and tourist destinations. We’ve seen the leisure demand increase as consumer confidences has improved and we take heart from the fact that affluent travelers [inaudible] finances today are quite robust compared to a couple of years ago. As with business travel, this affords us the opportunity to improve mix by, for example, phasing out some cut-rate Internet channels such as opaque."
  • [Argentina] "Our hotel rates which are typically in dollars are not going up as fast as our costs. As a result of this disconnect and despite significant efforts by our local teams to hold costs in line, our margins are under pressure. We expect this issue to persist as long as these currencies are not devalued relative to the dollar commensurate with the local inflation trend."
  • "Our vacation ownership business is stable. Doors, close rates and pricing have tracked in line with expectations. Delinquency default rates continue to improve. We remain focused on cash generation in this business. With selective inventory adds we expect to generate over $150 million in cash flow in 2011 on top of the $500 million we generated in ‘09 and ‘10. There will also be some cash flow from closings that offset some of our capital spend on Bal Harbour this year. We have contracts on more than half the condo inventory and hope to be 65 to 70% sold by the time we start closings.  2012 will be the big year for revenue and income recognition and cash flow from Bal Harbour based on current plans."
  • "Sometimes you have some fees that are on a cash basis and the fee is paid, but by and large the incentive fee growth in the fourth quarter was powered by Asia where you saw some significant REVPAR growth. It was good in the U.S. from a very low base, and what held it back to some degree was the Middle East. So I think we’ll see some of that in the next year."
  • [North Africa fees] "$3 million to $4 million a quarter is reasonably close to what you should expect."
  • "We went into some detail about what percentage of our properties both in the U.S. and international markets were paying incentive fees, and it hasn’t changed much since then, so probably low double digits for North America and international is 60% or 70%."