May 8, 2018 / 9:39 PM / 17 days ago

Marriott tops profit estimates on higher prices, travel demand

(Reuters) - Marriott International Inc’s (MAR.O) quarterly profit topped Wall Street forecasts on Tuesday, as the world’s largest hotel chain benefited from higher room prices during a period of growing global travel.

A Marriott flag hangs at the entrance of the New York Marriott Downtown hotel in Manhattan, New York November 16, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Marriott, which owns the Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis luxury brands, also increased its forecast for a key measure of hotel health.

The company now expects revenue per available room (RevPAR) to rise 3 to 4 percent this year, compared with an earlier forecast of a 1 percent to 3 percent increase.

Last month, Marriott’s smaller rival Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (HLT.N) also raised its RevPAR forecast, thanks to higher spending from consumers and businesses, which contributed to stronger demand for hotel rooms.

Marriott, which also owns the JW Marriott, Autograph and Courtyard brands, said room rates in North America rose 1.1 percent in the first quarter.

Its net income rose to $398 million or $1.09 per share in the three months ended March 31, from $371 million or 95 cents per share a year earlier.

Excluding items Marriott reported earnings of $1.34 per share, ahead of analysts’ average expectation of $1.22, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue inched up 1.9 percent to $5 billion but fell well short of analysts’ estimates of $5.75 billion.

Marriott shares fell 1 percent to $137.81 in after-hours trading.

    Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar

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