In addition, certain terms used in this call are non-GAAP financial measures, reconciliations of which are provided in the company’s earnings release and accompanying tables or schedules, which have been filed on Form 8-K with the SEC on April 25, 2012, and may also be accessed through the company’s website at www.ahtreit.com. Each listener is encouraged to review those reconciliations provided in the earnings release together with all other information provided in the release.
I will now turn the call over to Monty Bennett. Please go ahead, sir.
Thanks and good morning. The first quarter this year continued to reflect the early stage benefits from the hotel cycle recovery and as a result our reporting metrics are positive. It should be recognized however that until the recovery gains have more sustained footing, progress could be uneven at times. We continue to make headway in certain key areas such operating margin improvement, RevPAR growth and risk mitigation. We are focused on how best to create near term and long-term shareholder value within an environment where we continue to see improving trends in the lodging sector and great resiliency in the US economy as a whole.We remain bullish on the hotel outlook and are confident that our initiatives are adding value. Since our last conference call on February, US hotel demand has continued to improve with RevPAR growth still well above historical average growth rates. In 2011 US market achieved annual RevPAR growth of 8.2%. At 2012 and 2013, the US hotel industry is expected to report steady RevPAR increases at 5.8% and 6.6% respectively according to the recent forecast from PKF.For the first quarter Ashford’s RevPAR growth was 3.1%. The legacy portfolio registered a RevPAR growth of 3.6% whereas the Highland portfolio was 1.3%. The performance reflects our heavy concentration at Washington DC, Dallas, Forth Worth and certain airport locations as well as some impact from capital expenditures. Approximately 15% of our EBITDA comes from the Washington DC area. While DC has underperformed other gateway cities, we remain confident in this [external] long term market and expect to see improved performance particularly following the 2012 election.
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