8. Starwood Hotels & Resorts (HOT) owns and operates hotel properties under the St. Regis, W, Westin, Four Points and Sheraton names. Goldman is "bullish on the current hotel cycle" and calls Starwood its "top pick across the coverage space" for an upward cycle that will be "strong and long."
Starwood delivered a third-quarter GAAP loss of $6 million, or three cents a share, but its stock has risen an eye-catching 77% in the past 12 months. Given the outperformance, analysts offer a middling view, with 17, or 58%, rating it "buy" and 12 ranking it "hold."
Goldman cites a recent 8% hotel-cost cut as a permanent, structural boost to profit margins and the stock price. It also believes that Starwood's foothold in India and China put it "in a unique position to not only benefit from intra-country travel in those markets, but also outbound travel" because of brand recognition. Construction data, signaling stagnant hotel supply, and consumer data, pointing to looser purse strings, strengthen the bank's thesis. Following Starwood's analyst day in early December, Goldman boosted its target to $70, implying 18% of upside.
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