October 26, 2016 / 10:11 AM / 3 years ago

Weak business travel weighs on Hilton forecast

(Reuters) - Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (HLT.N), owner of the Waldorf Astoria hotel chain, cut its full-year forecast for a key revenue measure for the third time as it struggles with weak business travel demand in a slowing global economy.

The Waldorf Astoria is pictured at 301 Park Avenue in New York October 6, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Shares of the company, which also owns the Conrad and Double Tree hotel chains, fell as much as 3.2 percent on Wednesday. Larger rival Marriott International Inc’s (MAR.O) shares were down 0.7 percent.

Hilton said it expects 2016 system-wide comparable revenue per available room (RevPAR) to rise between 1.5 percent and 2 percent, down from its previous forecast of 2-4 percent.

RevPAR is calculated by multiplying a hotel’s average daily room rate by its occupancy rate.

The company added that increasing uncertainty in Turkey, France and Belgium due to recent attacks could temper its RevPAR growth going forward.

Hilton’s RevPAR in Europe, one of its biggest markets outside the United States, slipped 0.7 percent in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

A decline in oil prices has also affected business travel in emerging economies such as Latin America, the Middle East and Russia.

“In the fourth quarter, we expect softness in (corporate) transient growth to continue,” Chief Executive Christopher Nassetta said.

Corporate transient demand reflects individuals traveling for business purposes.

Hilton said it expects RevPAR in 2017 to rise 1-3 percent and adjusted earnings of 86-89 cents per share.

The Asia Pacific region was a bright spot where the company expects a mid-single digit rise in 2016 RevPAR.

The hotel chain’s system-wide RevPAR rose 1.3 percent in the third quarter, while occupancy fell marginally and average daily rate rose 1.5 percent.

Hilton said it was on track to complete the spinoffs of Park Hotels & Resorts and Hilton Grand Vacations around the end of the year.

China’s HNA Group said on Monday it would buy a 25 percent stake in Hilton from its biggest shareholder Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) for $6.5 billion.

Excluding items, Hilton earned 23 cents per share, in line with the average analyst estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose to $2.94 billion from $2.90 billion, missing the average analyst estimate of $3.00 billion.

Up to Tuesday’s close, Hilton’s shares had risen 6.2 percent this year.

Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto

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