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The super-charged tortoise...

"Feel great about the fundamentals of the business and positioning (the company) for this year and next year" Mr. Nassetta

PREPARED COMMENTS:

Feel good about macro economic setup which in turn translates into an improved outlook and earnings guidance.

Overview:

  • Transient revenues in Q2 increased 7% systemwide
  • Gov't business stabilized during Q2 with business up 3% after 5 quarters of declines. 
  • Group +5% systemwide and will pick up in H2 with M/HSD growth in 2H
  • Ancillary spend: Group spend +14% per group owned hotel and +12% across Americas portfolio. 
  • Development:
    • Opened 56 hotels, 8,000 rooms in Q2 with 694,000 rooms globally opened at Q2 end
    • 542 hotels - 106,000 rooms under construction in Mgmt & Franchise segment
    • Pipeline +18% YoY = 275,000 rooms
    • 21,000 new rooms approved in Q2
  • Curio potential for 1,200 hotel portfolio possible globally, 75 Curio's in discussions globally
  • Lifestyle Brand will be launched before year end

Outlook:

  • Favorable conditions in most markets.
  • US: strong fundamentals, high single digit RevPAR growth expectations
  • Mexico:  high single digit REVPAR
  • Europe: strong group and transient gains, soft France, better Turkey - confident in middle single digit RevPAR growth
  • ME/Africa: steady state, flat RevPAR due to geopolitical tensions
  • Asia/Pac: Japan & China strength, high single digit RevPAR
  • Time Share: 82% of supply is capital light
  • Corp Expense: incremental public company costs, not evenly distributed across quarters...
  • US Focused Service: 7.9% RevPAR: solid results
  • Outside the US: 8% REVPAR
  • China: 7% REVPAR
  • APAC tempered by HK and Singapore
  • Europe : Northern countries and France soft, Southern better
  • ME/Africa -3.7% in Q - virus fears, visa restrictions
  • Debt reduction:  substantially all FCF for debt retirement, $600m YTD, increasing debt reduction by $100m
  • Time Share securitization:  $350m upsized, 1.81% all in cost, tightest spread and terms
  • Cash $829m, $284m restricted

Q&A:

  • Outlook for H2, 5.5% to 7.5% RevPAR seems conservative versus YTD results?
    • HLT strongest results vs competition. Transient business strong.  Feel good mid-point - highest in the industry, will attempt to outperform mid-point and thus at the upper-end of guidance.
  • Pipeline: Brands/Geographies garnering interest?
    • US interest picked up on percentage basis, US today is a limited-service growth story. HLT getting 20% of new deals vs. only 10% of market currently.
  • Net-rooms acceleration in 2015?
    • Assumptions correct, great success in pipeline, most rooms under construction, but did not give specific 2015 guidance.  2014 was the nadir for units growth. Expect pipeline will accelerate.
  • Margin acceleration for owned hotel segment for H2 2014?
    • Strong H1 2014 growth, Q2 on higher end, by definition see margin growth temper, due to prior cost saves efforts.  Big 8 hotels will have an uptick from Q2 driven by group position.  Big 8 position high single digit, low double digit for Q3 and Q4
  • EBITDA growth 2015 results in 3x to 3.5x leverage by year end 2015, how should we think about capital structure?
    • Will end 2014 at low 4xs, by year end 2015 will be 3x to 4x, targeting lower investment grade rating...not in business of hoarding capital, will preserve balance sheet, but will look to return FCF to shareholders.  First a small dividend then remaining FCF through share repurchases or dividends based on ownership of company (whether or not BX is still a shareholder).
  • What has changed that will caused margins to continue to expand?
    • Today at the mid-cycle, getting high occupancy levels, ability to drive mix based on group return and strength of transient. Aggressive on mix and increasing ADR = higher flow through.
  • Real Estate: value realization at Waldorf and Hilton
    • Hilton Hawaiian Village, broke ground, expect to be selling units before year end.
    • Hilton: in design stage, construction early 1H, will product EBITDA before year end.  In registration for timeshare.
    • Waikea Village: registration for incremental time share, convert one or more towers to timeshare.  Not soon because have other inventory to sell prior to the tower conversion.  
    • Waldorf: nothing new to report, tax structure addressed to maximize value creation to shareholders.  Searching for counterpart to make deal happen. Will have more details before year end.
  • How to grow RevPAR sequentially?
    • RevPAR index gains helped HLT.  Every brand gained share.  1.7% improvement YoY. Revenue management efforts helped drive results. Have something unique vs. competitors. 
    • Market share premiums.  These premiums drive new development as well.
    • Driving customer loyalty for repeat business.
  • Key Money
    • Less than 5% involve key money, so 95% are "dry" deals.  HLT system offers real value to owners.
  • Strategic opportunities - would you consider lower fees?
    • May discount fees vs. strategic nature of new affiliation.  On occasion may consider discounting fees. 
  • Where are you interested in monetizing real estate - potential REIT spin-off? 
    • Less to do with cycle, more to do with value creation exercise. Given tax attributes of owned real estate, must do in a tax-beneficial manner. Would need to see divergence in multiples and thus value creation opportunity. Doing it today would not provide incremental value.  
  • APAC guidance - lowered?
    • Down modestly due to Singapore and Hong Kong, still feel good about Japan and China - being conservative due to Thailand disruption and Singapore weakness.
  • Waldorf - ability to pull cash out?
    • Need high quality, 5 star 400 room Waldorf Astoria branded hotel.  So opportunities to re-position. Getting timeshare is NOT a priority. Would love to get cash out, but most efficient manner will not include cash out but rather via JV and trade into other real estate.  
    • 1400+ rooms with 1.6m sq. ft. of zoned, so about 1.3m of opportunity.
  • BIg 8 - group mix last cycle?
    • About where assets were prior to downturn. Target is 40% group, today high 30%s
  •  IMFs - trajectory?
    • Would have been better but Middle East weighted on results. 80% of IMFs are outside the US.  Non-US IMFs are lower beta and do NOT sit behind a preferential return.  Mid-teens growth in 2014, but 2015 and later stronger because international assets/no prefs will see IMF growth of mid-20s%