Marriott International Management Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Marriott International (MAR)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 19, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

Arne M. Sorenson - President, Chief Operating Officer and Director

Carl T. Berquist - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Executive Vice President

Laura E. Paugh - Senior Vice President of Investor Relations

Analysts

Sule Sauvigne - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Shaun C. Kelley - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Joseph Greff - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Joshua Attie - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

David Loeb - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

William C. Marks - JMP Securities LLC, Research Division

Robin M. Farley - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Harry C. Curtis - Nomura Securities Co. Ltd., Research Division

Steven E. Kent - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Smedes Rose - Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc., Research Division

Ian C. Weissman - ISI Group Inc., Research Division

Christopher Agnew - MKM Partners LLC, Research Division

Alistair Scobie - Atlantic Equities LLP

William A. Crow - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Marriott International First Quarter 2012 Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Arne Sorenson, President and CEO. Sir, you may begin your conference.

Arne M. Sorenson

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to our first quarter 2012 earnings conference call. Joining me today are Carl Berquist, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Laura Paugh, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations; and Betsy Dahm, Senior Director, Investor Relations.

Before we begin, let me publicly wish Betsy a very happy birthday. We're lucky to have her on our team. As always, before we get into the discussion of our results, let me first remind everyone that many of our comments today are not historical facts and are considered forward-looking statements under federal securities laws. These statements are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, as described in our SEC filings, which could cause future results to differ materially from those expressed in or implied by our comments. Forward-looking statements in the press release that we issued last night, along with our comments today, are effective only today, April 19, 2012, and will not be updated as actual events unfold. You can find a reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures referred to in our remarks on our website at www.marriot.com/investor.

We just got back from Marriott's Full Service General Managers Conference at L.A. LIVE, the first such global conference we have held in 5 years. 700 general managers attended from around the world. We celebrated the wonderful job they are doing and the extraordinary engagement of our associates, and we've talked about the amazing opportunities for Marriott International. In Los Angeles, the focus of the meeting was on our brands and our people.

Last year, our owners and franchisees spent an estimated $1.5 billion on renovations and repositionings. Our great rooms should be in 2/3 of our Marriott Renaissance Hotels by the end of 2012, and we expect 3/4 of our more than 800 domestic Courtyard hotels will offer the new Courtyard refreshing business lobby by then as well. As these innovations were a lot, we are seeing increases in both REVPAR index and in hotel profitability.

At our conference, we've showcased the next generation of get -- great rooms. We presented new guestroom designs, and we worked on other new product and service enhancements. We'll have more to show you as these ideas hit the market. But to be sure, we are building on a solid foundation of innovation and product quality.

New unit development is a key part of our brand strategy. The halo from new hotels with the latest in design and services can enhance the entire system. The JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Hotels at L.A. LIVE come to mind, as do the Cosmopolitan and Autograph Hotel in Las Vegas; the JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai is slated to be the world's tallest hotel when it opens later this year; or the Ritz-Carlton Pudong, with sweeping views of Shanghai and a decidedly modern take on luxury.

While we continue to add new brand-building hotels around the world, supply growth for the hotel industry has rarely looked better. In the U.S., Smith Travel estimates hotel room supply will grow by less than 1% in 2012. We expect supply growth to remain very low for a number of years, particularly in the full service segments. Very little construction financing is available, particularly for large properties. And when it can be found, it typically requires personal guarantees and considerable equity.

To expand in North America today, a strong brand is table stakes. Marriott brands account for roughly 10% of North American rooms. But over the last 12 months, we opened nearly 20% of the new rooms in the industry. Given the strength of our development pipeline, we expect to continue to expand our share for many years to come.

Moderating the industry supply growth is a great story abroad as well. As most hotels developed in China are part of mixed use projects, we expect a modest pullback in supply growth as the Chinese government attempts to cool the hot residential real estate market. This will likely slow the extraordinary pace of new hotel deals and openings a bit. Despite this, we expect to -- we continue to expect China to remain one of the fastest growing lodging markets in the world.

Among upper upscale and luxury hotels in Asia, overall, we have a 10% share of operating rooms, but a 15% share of rooms under construction. In India, more moderate economic growth has slowed the pace of new full-service hotel development, although we continue to see a strong appetite for our Courtyard and Fairfield brands. We have nearly 20 Courtyards and nearly 10 Fairfields in our India pipeline.

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