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Marriott Earnings Match Estimates as Demand Increases

Marriott International Inc., the owner of such brands as the Ritz-Carlton and Renaissance, reported fourth-quarter earnings that matched analyst estimates as leisure and business-group demand rose in North America.

Net income was $151 million, or 49 cents a share, compared with $181 million, or 56 cents, a year earlier, the Bethesda, Maryland-based company said today in a statement. The average estimate of 10 analysts was 49 cents a share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A change in Marriott’s calendar cut the number of days in the fourth quarter from a year earlier.

Marriott, the second-largest U.S. hotel chain by stock-market value, was helped by rising demand from vacation travelers as well as individual and group business customers in most of its North American markets, said Patrick Scholes, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc. in New York.

“North America was solid with good demand from the leisure and corporate traveler,” Scholes said in a telephone interview before earnings were announced. “There was even a pickup in demand from group.”

Demand at Marriott’s properties in the Washington area, which number about 150, were hurt by last year’s government shutdown, he said.

The shares fell to $50.50 at 5:55 p.m. in after-hours trading after closing at $51.54.

Expenses Increase

“The fourth quarter was only so-so,” Nikhil Bhalla, an analyst at FBR & Co. in Arlington, Virginia, said after earnings were released. “I don’t think shareholders are happy about the fact that expenses went up so much. The quarter was just a bit disappointing.”

General, administrative and other expenses for the quarter totaled $200 million, according to the statement. That’s higher than the company’s October estimate of $170 million to $175 million.

Revenue per available room, an industry measure of occupancies and rates, climbed 4.1 percent from a year earlier worldwide, adjusted for currency fluctuations, according to today’s statement. In North America, revpar increased 4.7 percent. The company in October had forecast revpar to climb 4.5 percent to 5.5 percent on the continent.

Total revenue fell to $3.22 billion from $3.76 billion a year earlier.

The fourth quarter was 92 days long last year, compared with 112 days in 2012, as Marriott changed to calendar-year reporting. Marriott didn’t restate year-earlier earnings to account for the change.

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