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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Management Discusses Q2 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

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In other words, the climate for our business is not as bleak as the headlines would suggest. We live in a world where sentiment changes quickly. But we're convinced that long-term growth trends have not changed. Take Dubai as an example. It rebounded quickly after the crisis and has risen to become a leading global travel hub. That lies in the center of major new travel patterns, from China to Africa, and from Southeast Asia to Europe. And Europe itself is benefiting from more visitors, not just from the Middle East, but from Asia as well, not to mention Americans with their stronger dollars.

We still hear is some talk in the press of a hard lending in China. We have seen a deceleration, but nothing precipitous. It appears to us that the slower growth has to do with upcoming government transition and excess supply in a few cities.

You should also note that none of our 100 hotel projects has been put on hold, which, we believe, says a lot about local investor confidence in China and in our brands.

Meanwhile, in North America, as well as Europe and Japan, we're still benefiting from tight supply, especially at the high end. For over a decade now, few new hotels have been added to these markets. So despite recoveries that are tenuous at best, occupancies in big cities are in the high 70s, levels that should keep pushing rates up.

So in the context of this business climate, let's take a closer look at our Q2 business performance. Our momentum continued and we're on track to hit our 2012 baseline results. Worldwide REVPAR growth was led by Africa and the Middle East, up over 11%. Thanks, in part, to easier comparisons with last year's Arab Spring events. North American REVPAR was more than 7%, driven mostly by higher rates. Latin America slowed to 6%, primarily a result of instability in Argentina. And Europe, despite its woes, saw REVPAR of 2% and occupancy at 70%, which is virtually unchanged from last year.

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