* Second-qtr adjusted earnings/share $0.79 vs estimate $0.73
* RevPAR up 5.2 pct in North America
* Sees 2013 adj EPS $2.81-$2.88, up from $2.75-$2.83
* Shares up 2.5 pct
By Bijoy Anandoth Koyitty
July 25 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc
, operator of Sheraton hotels, posted a 12 percent jump
in quarterly earnings and raised its 2013 earnings forecast as a
rebound in business travel fills its rooms.
Starwood, which also owns the Westin, W and Le Meridien
brands, said occupancy at its hotels in North America in the
second quarter reached 76 percent, the highest ever.
The second-quarter profit topped analysts' forecasts and it
also raised its outlook to above the Wall Street consensus,
pushing shares up 2.5 percent in early trading.
"Rising wealth, global business demand and interest in new
destinations are set to fuel the growth in luxury travel for
some time to come," Chief Executive Frits van Paasschen said in
Revenue per available room (revPAR) - a key metric for the
hotel industry - for hotels in North America open for at least a
year rose 5.2 percent in the quarter ended June, Starwood said.
U.S. hotel occupancy has benefited in recent months from a
rebound in business travel, which has in turn boosted the rates
hotels can charge for rooms.
"Occupancy has returned to peak levels and that allows
additional pricing power," said Evercore Partners analyst Smedes
Rose, who has an "overweight" rating on the stock.
Starwood has been expanding in Asia and Middle East where
demand is also growing, which is keeping the CEO on the road.
Van Paasschen is known for temporarily moving to the
countries in which he is expanding. He moved his staff to
China's Shanghai in 2011 and to Dubai this year.
The company raised its full-year adjusted earnings forecast
to $2.81-$2.88 per share from its earlier forecast of
$2.75-$2.83 per share.
The company said it expects to earn 60 cents to 64 cents per
share in the third quarter ending September.
Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 62 cents per
share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Second-quarter net income from continuing operations rose to
$137 million, or 71 cents per share, from $122 million, or 62
cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding items, it earned 79
cents per share.
Analysts on average expected earnings of 73 cents per share.
Starwood's rivals Hyatt Hotels Corp and Marriott
International Inc are both scheduled to report
first-quarter results next week.
Stamford, Connecticut-based Starwood's shares, which have
gained 10 percent of their value year-to-date until Wednesday,
were trading up 2.5 percent at $64.90 in morning trade on the
New York Stock Exchange.