Marriott 4Q Profit Leaps on Robust Revenue

Thursday, February 9th 2006, 10:57 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Hotel operator Marriott International Inc. on Thursday said fourth-quarter profit jumped 25 percent as the company saw robust revenue from its group, commercial and leisure travel segments. Its shares rose nearly 3 percent in early trading.

Net income increased to $237 million, or $1.07 per share, for the October-December period from $189 million, or 79 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. Quarterly revenue rose 16 percent to $3.64 billion from $3.14 billion in the prior-year period.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 98 cents per share on sales of $3.42 billion.

Chairman and Chief Executive J.W. Marriott Jr. said in ``worldwide economic expansion and impressive lodging industry strength'' buoyed results.

``Across all travel segments, group, business transient and leisure, revenues remained strong in the quarter,'' he said in a statement. ``Meeting attendance was solid and group spending was robust. Catering revenues rose 13 percent during the quarter, with particularly impressive demand from financial services and pharmaceutical businesses.''

For the year, net income rose 12 percent to $669 million, or $2.89 per share, from $596 million, or $2.48 per share, in 2004. Annual revenue rose 14 percent to $11.55 billion from $10.1 billion a year ago.

Marriott forecast first-quarter profit per share of 67 cents to 73 cents and full-year earnings of $2.95 to $3.05. Excluding stock-based compensation and other charges, earnings are forecast to range between 70 cents and 76 cents per share in the first quarter and between $3.08 and $3.18 per share for the year.