The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Peabody Energy, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Marriott International, InterContinental

 The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights:Peabody Energy, Starwood Hotels & Resorts
  Worldwide, Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group and Hyatt

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, July 23, 2013

CHICAGO, July 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ announces the list of stocks
featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts
discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets.
Stocks recently featured in the blog include Peabody Energy Corp.
(NYSE:BTU-Free Report), Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.
(NYSE:HOT-Free Report), Marriott International Inc. (NYSE:MAR-Free
Report),InterContinental Hotels Group (NYSE:IHG-Free Report) and Hyatt Hotels
Corp. (NYSE:H-Free Report).


Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of
the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Monday's Analyst Blog:

Will Peabody Beat Earnings Estimates?

Peabody Energy Corp. (NYSE:BTU-Free Report) will release its second quarter
2013 financial results before the market bell on Jul 23, 2013. In the prior
quarter, this coal operator reported a positive earnings surprise of 64.29%.
Peabody currently has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Let's see how things are shaping
up at Peabody prior to this announcement.

Factors to Consider This Quarter

The soft performance of the coal industry in 2012 lingered in the first half
of 2013. However, the demand for coal is likely to pick up in the subsequent
quarters with an increase in natural gas prices.

In this commodity supply surplus environment mine operators are selectively
developing mines to cope with the slackness in demand. This situation has
prompted Peabody to lower its capital expenditure for 2013 by nearly 50% from
the 2012 level to a range of $450 million to $550 million.

Peabody is also working to lower its operating expenses and has undertaken
cost saving initiatives. The cost savings could be marginally offset by
expenses involved in implementation of longwall operations in Twentymile Mine,
in Routt County, Colo., and in Wambo Mines in New South Wales, Australia.

However, there is some good news for the coal industry. The World Steel
Association projected nearly 3% year-over-year growth in global steel usage in
2013 and 2014. Positive steel fundamentals can drive the demand for Peabody's
premium coal.

In addition, nearly 300 gigawatts of coal fired power units will come on-line
globally over the next five years. Since the expansion will mainly take place
in the developing economies where production of coal is much lower than
domestic demand, it could open up new shipment opportunities for Peabody.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that Peabody Energy is likely to
beat earnings this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a
positive earnings Expected Surprise Prediction (ESP) (Read: Zacks Earnings
ESP: A Better Method) and a Zacks Rank #1, 2 or 3 for this to happen. This is
not the case here.

Positive Zacks ESP: Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the
Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is at +40.0%. This is
a leading indicator of a likely positive earnings surprise for the
shares.Zacks Rank #4 (Sell): Peabody's Zacks Rank #4 complicates the
forecasting power making surprise prediction difficult. We caution against
stocks with Zacks Ranks #4 and 5 (Sell rated stocks) going into the earnings
announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate

Starwood Broadens Mexican Exposure

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (NYSE:HOT-Free Report) is set to beef
up its Mexican portfolio. The company recently announced plans to extend its
hotel base in the region by 30%. Starwood has a considerable presence in
Mexico. Featuring 24 hotels under 8 brands, Mexico is Starwood's biggest
market in Latin America.

At present, Starwood has 8 new upper-upscale hotels under construction in
Mexico, which will add nearly 1,100 rooms to its current count of 4800 rooms
in the country. The Mexican market will play a pivotal role in Starwood's aim
to open as many as 100 hotels in Latin America by the end of 2013. Starwood
targets to ramp up its luxury portfolio in Mexico by 50% over the next three

In fact, to gain a competitive edge in Mexico, Starwood formed a global
partnership with Aeromexico, the national airline of Mexico to bolster their
respective loyalty programs –Starwood Preferred Guest and Aeromexico Club
Premier. This strategic alliance, signed on Jul 15, will allow Starwood
members to redeem their points at Aeromexico and vice versa.

Why Mexico?

Owing to the saturation in the U.S market, major hoteliers are exploring
growth opportunities abroad. The current trend shows that economic strength
has been slowly shifting from the developed world to the rapidly growing
economies and this transition has not escaped Starwood's notice. Going by this
trend, Central and South America promise solid growth going forward.

Among Latin American countries, Mexico is set to witness a surge in demand
driven by the resurgence of the middle class, a fraction of which spends
considerably on travel and leisure. Apart from tourism, the region is also
emerging as a business hub. Also, lower crime rates in the country have
ensured that U.S.-groups are once again taking an interest in Mexico.

Solid performance in Mexico led the company to post flat revenue per available
room (RevPAR) in Latin America in the first quarter of 2013, despite the
Argentinian issues. Mexican RevPAR was up 10%. The region is expected to
continue performing well in the near future.

Moreover, thanks to a long-standing presence in this country, Starwood enjoys
a stable relationship with owners and developers across the country.
Therefore, Starwood sees more construction opportunities in Mexico with an
abundance of natural resources.

Bottom Line

Pent-up demand both in the luxury and mid-market segment in Mexico is making
Starwood broaden its exposure in that country. However, this Zacks Rank #1
(Strong Buy) should be wary of its competitors, as major hoteliers like
Marriott International Inc. (NYSE:MAR-Free Report),InterContinental Hotels
Group (NYSE:IHG-Free Report) and Hyatt Hotels Corp. (NYSE:H-Free Report) too
have a considerable presence in Mexico.

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of
the Day pick for free.

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