* First-quarter adjusted earnings/share $0.76 vs estimate
* Revenue $1.54 bln vs estimate $1.47 bln
* RevPAR up 6.2 pct in North America
* Shares up 2 percent
By Sagarika Jaisinghani
April 30 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc
, whose brands include Sheraton and Westin, reported a
quarterly profit that handily beat analysts' expectations as
more people checked into its hotels at higher room rates,
particularly in North America.
Shares of the company, which focuses on upscale customers,
were up 2 percent before the bell on Tuesday.
A business-led recovery has helped lift U.S. hotel occupancy
rates in recent months. Starwood has also benefited from higher
demand in Asia, Latin America, Middle East and Africa.
"Tight supply is driving higher room rates in North America,
and our footprint continues to expand in the growing economies,"
Chief Executive Frits van Paasschen said in a statement.
Starwood, which also franchises the W, St. Regis and Le
Meridien brands, runs its hotel and leisure business directly
and through subsidiaries.
Starwood said revenue per available room (revPAR) - a key
metric for the hotel industry - for all its hotels in North
America open for at least a year rose 6.2 percent in the first
quarter. Occupancy increased to 68.6 percent from 67.3 percent.
Higher demand drove a recovery in the U.S. hotel industry
through 2010 and 2011. However, with hotels running at near-peak
levels, operators have had to ramp up room rates at a faster
pace to drive results, Suntrust Robinson Humphrey analyst
Patrick Scholes said.
"One should see mid-single digits worldwide revPAR growth
(in 2013)", he said.
Starwood on Tuesday maintained its expectation of 2013
revPAR growth of 5 percent to 7 percent at hotels operated by
the company and open for at least one year.
The company said it expects to earn 70 cents to 73 cents per
share in the second quarter ending June.
Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 72 cents per
share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Net income from continuing operations rose to $143 million,
or 73 cents per share, in the first quarter from $129 million,
or 65 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, Starwood earned 76 cents per share, easily
topping analysts' expectations of 53 cents per share.
Revenue dropped 10 percent to about $1.54 billion, but was
ahead of the $1.47 billion analysts expected.
Starwood was the first to report quarterly results among the
large U.S. hotel operators. Hyatt Hotels Corp and Marriott
International Inc are both scheduled to report
first-quarter results on Wednesday.
Stamford, Connecticut-based Starwood's shares gained 9
percent this year to Monday's close. They were up 2 percent at
$63.80 before the bell on Tuesday.