PARIS Accor (ACCP.PA), Europe's largest hotel group, raised its operating profit goal for 2013 on Thursday to reflect robust growth in Europe and in emerging markets and what it said were significant cost savings in the fourth quarter.
The French company, with nearly 3,500 hotels ranging from the luxury Sofitel to the budget Ibis, also said it expected that revenue growth this year would be in line 2013, when sales rose by 2.7 percent.
These trends included solid growth in key European markets and in Latin America and a "satisfactory" performance in Asia Pacific despite lower business in China and Australia.
Chief Financial Officer Sophie Stabile told journalists that China, where budget hotels were under pressure, would remain "difficult" while Latin America would benefit from the World Cup in Brazil. She was cautious about a recent improvement in budget hotels in Southern Europe.
Accor, which competes with InterContinental (IHG.L), Marriott MAR.N and Starwood (HOT.N), said fourth quarter revenue reached 1.40 billion euros, a like-for-like rise of 3.4 percent against 3.8 percent in the third quarter.
Accor said it now expected to post full-year 2013 earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of 530 million euros, which is at the high-end of a previously forecast range of between 510-530 million euros and compare with 526 million euros in 2012.
The group - whose new chief executive Sebastien Bazin recently unveiled a reorganization that he said would boost shareholder returns - also benefited in the quarter from a sharp rise in revenue from management and franchise fees.
Revenue in the upscale and midscale hotel segments grew 3.3 percent like-for-like in the quarter, helped by strong demand from leisure travelers, notably in Britain and Germany.
Revenue from budget hotels grew 4.1 percent like-for-like, helped by double-digit growth in Britain and an improving situation in Southern Europe with like-for-like increases of 5.4 percent in Spain and 5.5 percent in Italy.
Shares in Accor have gained around 3 percent so far this year, outperforming a 0.8 percent rise in the CAC-40 index of French blue chips .FCHI.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Geert De Clercq)