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HST 4Q09 YouTUBE

TRENDS

  • “On all fronts, demand is improving on a relative basis, however, we continue to see those improvements at lower room rates compared to the prior year.” 
  •  “The favorable trends we experienced in the third quarter accelerated during the fourth quarter as transient occupancy turned positive for the first time this year driven in part by increased special corporate bookings.” 
  • “Starting with our transient business, volume was very strong with an increase in room rates in the fourth quarter of nearly 7% compared to the fourth quarter of 2008, and perhaps even more noteworthy, up almost 1% compared to 2007.”
    • “The increase in transient occupancy stemmed primarily from additional demand in both with discount … and special corporate segments..Rates continue to be a challenge as the average trends in rates declined by 15% for the quarter which led to an overall transient revenue decline of 9.6%.”
    • “Group business trends have begun to turn the corner as the run rate of declines in group occupancy continues to improve and the outside levels of attrition and cancellation activity are reverting back to historical norms.”
    • Group booking – booking window:
      • “We're not seeing any sign yet that they are beginning to lengthen.”

OUTLOOK

  • “Economic indicators present a very mixed picture with GDP improving, business investment expected to be relatively flat while unemployment remains high and job growth is not expected to accelerate until next year. Even with the recession ending in 2009, we believe that the pace of recovery in 2010 will be somewhat moderate as concerns over unemployment and consumer spending linger.”
  • “The bigger challenge is on the rate side as we begin this year with average rate running around 10% below last year’s level. While comparisons will become easier as we move into the second quarter, we see pricing power returning only slowly on a market-by-market basis as demand begins to improve. Unless we experience a far more robust recovery that is currently anticipated, we would expect to endure a third consecutive year of decline in RevPAR and EBITDA.”
  • “2010, we are expecting a solid increase in transient occupancy, although this may be offset by a decline in transient rate.”
  • “Looking at 2010, at this point our forward bookings represent more than 70% of the group room nights we achieved in 2009… Our group room night bookings for this year are approximately 5% to 6% behind 2009’s pace.  Based on the strength of our short-term bookings, we would expect to close much but not all of that gap by year end.”
  • “However, we believe that rate crisis will persist on the group side in 2010, and that the decline in average rate will be higher for groups than on the transient side of our business. This will likely lead to a reduction in group revenues for the year. Of course the final results for both of our group and transient business will depend on the ultimate strength of the recovery and the economy in 2010.”
  • “In a more favorably scenario, where there is significant business investment in job growth, which result in flat RevPAR for the full year, we would anticipate the comparable adjusted margin will decline a 175 basis points, leading to adjusted EBITDA of $750 million and FFO per share of $0.57.”
  • Markets with a position outlook for 2010:
    • “We expect the Miami/Fort Lauderdale market to perform very well [in 2010]. The outperformance will be driven by the late 2009 Ballroom addition at the Harbor Beach Marriott and demand generated by the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl.  
    • Boston will also be a top performer, benefiting from the 2009 renovation at the Sheraton Boston, Boston Marriott Copley Place and the Hyatt Cambridge.  In addition, leisure and in-house group demand to help to offset weak citywide activities.
    • We also expect New York City to outperform in 2010. We believe that occupancy will continue to strengthen across all transient segments, and may allow us to stabilize and eventually increase rates.
    • San Francisco will also perform well, the Ballroom renovation at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis will negatively affect the first quarter but improve fourth quarter comparisons. While the citywide pace is down, transient demand is recovering well.”
  • Markets that will continue to struggle in 2010...
    • Phoenix, where substantial decline in group room nights is expected along with the 2.5% increase in supply. The ballrooms at the Ritz-Carlton and Phoenix in the Westin Kierland will be renovated and we are adding a ballroom in Kierland which will be disrupted and further reduce group room nights.
    • The Hawaiian market will continue to be challenged by the lack of airline capacity and airline price increases. Although we have started to see a recent increase in flights, they are still well below 2007 level. In addition, both of our hotels will undergo room renovations.
    • The San Diego market will struggle due to a substantial decline in citywide demand and the absorption of the new Hilton that opened in 2009, and room renovation at the San Diego Marina Marriott will also negatively effect our performance.”
  • We expect the European joint venture portfolio to have RevPAR of +2% to -2% for 2010."
  • “Looking forward to 2010, we expect occupancy to increase, which will lead to growth in wage and benefit costs, slightly less than inflation…  we expect unallocated costs to increase less than inflation except for utilities, where we expect higher growth to an increase in rates in volume due to 2010’s cold winter compared to the mild winter of 2009. We expect property insurance to increase because of inflation, and property taxes to rise in excess of inflation.”
  • Real estate taxes going higher: 
    • “I think the problem we are running into is that we know that single family values are down throughout a lot of markets. There is a reluctance on the part of most local governments to increase tax rates, especially as it relates to residential customers. And so, even though our value should be lower, at the end of the day we are assuming that we're going to pay a bit more.”

OTHER

  • “Given the current operating environment, tight capital markets for potential buyers and our strong capital position, we have not included any additional dispositions in our guidance for the remainder of the year, although, we still expect to market a few assets this year.” 
  • “While we are fairly confident we’ll acquire assets including debt instruments this year, we have not built any acquisition assumption into our guidance at this point.” 
  • “For all of 2009, attrition and cancellation fees were approximately $40 million higher than a typical year.”
  • “I think you are seeing the conservatism of an owner who is basically paid and focused on the bottom line as the somewhat normal optimism of the operator to the little bit more top line focus. The truth is that I don’t think there is a huge difference in the way we are looking at next 2010 compared to Marriott and Starwood. They represent together probably 75% to 80% of our portfolio. So, to the extent that the way the years plays out is closer to the midpoint of their guidance and necessarily the midpoint of ours, you will see that benefit in our performance. I don’t expect that we would really ultimately perform much differently from them.”
    • “I suspect that if we do underperform at all it would probably be because we have a slightly larger group presence, and it may take a bit longer for that to come back."