July 25, 2013 / 11:22 AM / in 4 years

Starwood Hotels enjoys record North America occupancy

(Reuters) - Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc HOT.N, operator of Sheraton hotels, posted a 12 percent jump in quarterly earnings to beat market estimates and raised its 2013 earnings forecast as a rebound in business travel boosted occupancy rates.

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 the company has ever reported.

“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 a statement.

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 5.2 percent in the quarter ended June, Starwood said.

U.S. hotel occupancy rates have benefited in recent months from a rebound in business travel, which has in turn boosted room rates.

Starwood, which runs its hotel and leisure business directly and through subsidiaries, has been expanding in Asia and Middle East where the demand is growing.

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.

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 had expected earnings of 73 cents per, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting by Bijoy Koyitty in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane

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