February 24, 2010 / 9:35 PM / in 8 years

UPDATE 1-Ashford Hospitality Q4 FFO beats Street

* Q4 adj. FFO $0.32 vs est. $0.29

* RevPAR down 13.5 pct

* Total hotel expenses down 14 pct

Feb 24 (Reuters) - Lodging real estate investment trust Ashford Hospitality Inc (AHT.N) posted better-than-expected funds from operations, helped by lower expenses, but said it expects the operating environment to continue to be challenging this year.

For the fourth quarter, the company posted adjusted funds from operations (FFO) of 32 cents a share.

Analysts had expected FFO of 29 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue decreased 18.3 percent to $234.6 million in the fourth quarter, with revenue per available room (revPAR) down 13.5 percent, dragged down by a double-digit decline in rates.

    Funds from operations, a widely accepted measure of real estate investment trust performance, removes the profit-reducing effects of depreciation, while revPAR is a key metric of lodging industry performance based on occupancy and room rates.

    Total hotel expenses fell nearly 14 percent in the quarter and the company said it would continue to focus on controlling costs in 2010.

    Shares of the company, which owns hotel properties operated by Hilton and Marriott MAR.N among others, closed at $5.71 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Abhishek Takle in Bangalore; Editing by Unnikrishnan Nair)

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