Hilton Worldwide Holding (HLT) posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Tuesday, and guided for a solid start to 2019, easing concerns of a slowdown in global travel as the economy cools and oil prices rise.
Hilton said adjusted earnings for the three months ending in December came in at 79 a share, up 49% from the same period last year and four cents ahead of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues, Hilton said, rose 10.6% to $2.288 billion, modestly ahead of analysts' forecasts of "2.27 billion.
Looking into 2019, Hilton said it sees first quarter earnings of between 56 cents and 61 cents per share, essentially within the midpoint of Refinitiv's 59 cents per share forecast, and a full-year growth rate in the average revenue per available room, a key industry metric, of between 1% and 3%.
"We are pleased with our fourth quarter and full year results, exceeding the high end of our guidance for Adjusted EBITDA and diluted EPS, adjusted for special items, driven in part by better than expected net unit growth, up roughly 7 percent versus the prior year," said CEO Chris Nassetta. "In particular, we continued to expand our luxury portfolio with several exciting openings and the launch of our luxury collection brand, LXR Hotels & Resorts."
"We expect continued strength in room growth, combined with RevPAR growth, to provide a good setup for the year ahead." he added.
Hilton shares were marked 5.75% higher in the opening minutes of trading following the earnings release to change hand at $78.51 each and extend the stock's three-month gain to around 10.8%.