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Starwood Hotels & Resorts


posted fourth-quarter earnings that surpassed the Street's expectations, and said it expects a quarterly earnings per share growth of 15% in 2001.

The White Plains, N.Y.-based company said fourth-quarter earnings were $131 million, or 64 cents a share, compared with $104 million, or 51 cents a share, a year ago. According to a survey by

First Call/Thomson Financial

, 14 analysts expected 60 cents a share for the quarter.

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Revenue was $1.11 billion, compared with $1.08 billion in last year's fourth quarter.

Starwood said it is comfortable with a full-year 2001 earnings per share estimate of $2.26, up from its previous estimate of $2.22, thanks to a lower effective tax rate for 2001. First Call analysts are expecting 2001 earnings of $2.24 a share, compared with actual earnings of $1.96 a share for 2000.

"Moving forward, our core strategy remains quite simple; increase shareholder value by growing EPS at least 15% and

EBITDA by 8% to 10% per year," the company said.

Shares of Starwood closed at $37.84 in Wednesday trading on the

New York Stock Exchange

, and have a 52-week range of $19.80 to $39.60.