Dividend.com: Marriott Misses

The company reported a fourth-quarter loss as revenue and timeshare business fell.
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MarriottInternational Misses Fourth Quarter EPS Estimates

Shares of

Marriott International

(MAR) - Get Report

were down 2% in early trading after the hotel and lodging company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $10 million or 3 cents per share for the three months ended Jan. 2 compared with a profit of $176 million, or 46 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company said revenue fell 6% to a reported $3.78 billion from $4.09 billion a year ago. The hotel operator said revenue per available room for comparable worldwide company-operated properties slipped 8.4%, while revenue per available room for worldwide systemwide properties dropped 7.5%.

The company saw a big drop-off in timeshare results, which actually showed a loss of $2 million for the quarter compared with profit of $116 million a year ago.

Looking ahead, management is forecasting 2009 EPS in a range of 86 cents to $1.04, which is below the consensus estimates of $1.10.

We had removed shares of Marriot from our "Recommended" list on Aug. 19, when the stock was trading at $28.27. The company has a 2.31% dividend yield, based on last night's closing stock price of $15.15. The stock has technical support at the $10 to $11 price area. If that fails to hold, we could possibly test the $5 level. If the shares can rebound, we see overhead resistance around the $21 price point. We would remain on the sidelines for now.

Marriott International is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com Rating of 3.1 out of 5 stars.

Waste Management Fourth-Quarter Profit Declines 29%

The nation's No. 1 waste services company,

Waste Management

(WMI)

, reported fourth-quarter profit Thursday that slid 29% from the previous year.

The Houston-based company cited a decline in its recycling business and various one-time charges for the earnings slide.

Waste Management said that fourth-quarter net income fell to $218 million, or 44 cents per share, from $309 million, or 61 cents per share, in the same period a year ago. Overall revenue for the quarter came in at $3.11 billion, which was down 7% from the $3.36 billion the company reported for the fourth quarter of 2007.

Falling commodity prices negatively affected the company's recycling business in the fourth quarter. Other factors for the decline included special charges related to a pension plan withdrawal, as well as accounting and tax impacts.

As for the full year 2008, the company reported net income of $1.09 billion, or $2.19 per share, down 6.5% from $1.16 billion, or $2.23 per share in 2007. Disregarding several one-time items, the company's full-year earnings were $2.22 per share, while revenue increased slightly, from $13.31 billion to $13.39 billion. On average, analysts were expecting full-year earnings of $2.21 per share on revenue of $13.47 billion.

Analysts expect the company to use price increases and cost-cutting measures in order to offset lower demand for its services. Waste Management said it will spend $50 million on a reorganization plan that is expected to save $100 million in 2009.

We have had shares of WMI on our "Recommended" list since Oct. 13, when the stock traded at $25.76. The company has a 3.80% dividend yield, based on last night's closing stock price of $28.45. We still like the shares and will keep subscribers posted of any potential changes in our ratings.

Waste Management is a "recommended" dividend stock, holding a Dividend.com Rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Coca-Cola Shares Rally on Fourth-Quarter Results

Coca-Cola

(KO) - Get Report

shares were up 4% in early trading, despite the company's

fourth-quarter profit falling 18%

to $995 million, or 43 cents per share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31, down from $1.21 billion, or 52 cents per share, a year earlier.

Sales sllipped 3% to $7.13 billion from $7.33 billion a year ago, as the company felt the effects of the stronger U.S. dollar. The company's total unit case volume, or the amount of all Coca-Cola drinks sold worldwide, rose 4%.

Management believes the company is well-positioned and feels sales can remain resilient throughout the downturn.

We have had shares of Coca-Cola on our "Recommended" list since Oct.16, when the stock traded at $44.21. The company has a 3.68% dividend yield, based on last night's closing stock price of $41.27. We are still positive on the stock, despite the price being lower from our original recommendation. We will keep subscribers posted of any potential changes in our ratings.

Coca-Cola is a "Recommended" stock at this time, holding a Dividend.com Rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Aetna Fourth-Quarter Profit Drops 57%, Holds 2009 EPS Estimates Steady

Shares of

Aetna

(AET)

were down about 2% in early trading after the company reported fourth-quarter profit tumbled 57% to $194.7 million, or 42 cents per share, down from $448.4 million, or 87 cents per share in the same quarter for 2007.

The company said revenue grew 9% to $7.76 billion from $7.14 billion, as the health insurer gained 33,000 new members in the quarter and 848,000 in the year, to finish 2008 with 17.7 million. The company said health care costs rose 19% to $5.3 billion, but health care premiums rose $931 million to $6.5 billion.

Looking ahead, management expects 2009 EPS of $3.85 to $3.95, while the consensus is for $3.87 per share.

We have avoided shares of Aetna since our early June coverage began, when the stock was trading at $46.48. The company currently has a 0.12% dividend yield, based on Friday's closing stock price of $32.24. The company does have technical support in the $20 area, but if that fails we could see the $14 to $15 mark. If the stock can firm up here and begin to move higher, the $35 level would be a key spot for overhead resistance. We would remain on the sidelines for now.

Aetna is not recommended at this time, holding a Dividend.com Rating of 3.2 out of 5 stars.

Be sure to visit our complete recommended list of the Best Dividend Stocks as well as a detailed explanation of our ratings system.

At the time of publication, the author had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.

Tom Reese and Paul Rubillo are senior editors of Dividend.com. Visit Dividend.com for more dividend stock ratings, picks, news, and analysis for long-term and income-seeking investors.