Host Hotels & Resorts (HST) Q1 2012 Earnings Call April 25, 2012 10:00 am ET Executives Gregory J. Larson - Executive Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Fund Management W. Edward Walter - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director Larry K. Harvey - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Analysts Robin M. Farley - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division William A. Crow - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division James W. Sullivan - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division Joshua Attie - Citigroup Inc, Research Division Eli Hackel - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division Andrew G. Didora - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division David Loeb - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division Jeffrey J. Donnelly - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division Presentation Operator
Additionally, on today's call, we will discuss certain non-GAAP financial information such as FFO, adjusted EBITDA and comparable hotel results. You can find this information together with reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP information in today's earnings press release and our 8-K filed with the SEC and on our website at hosthotels.com.With me on the call today is Ed Walter, our President and Chief Executive Officer; Larry Harvey, our Chief Financial Officer; and Jeanne Lindberg, our Vice President of Investor Relations. This morning, Ed Walter will provide a brief overview of our first quarter results and then we'll describe the current operating environment, as well as the company's outlook for 2012. Larry Harvey will then provide greater detail on our first quarter results including regional and market performance. Following their remarks, we will be available to respond to your questions. And now, here is Ed. W. Edward Walter Thanks, Greg. Good morning, everyone. 2012 has gotten off to a great start as demand growth has been strong in the higher-rated segments of both our group and transient business leading to a better-than-expected topline and bottom-line growth, which resulted in earnings that exceeded consensus estimates. Our strong first quarter performance combined with the robust group booking page for the remainder of the year gives us confidence to raise our full year guidance. We feel very good about the fundamentals of the business and our outlook for the remainder of the year, which I will discuss in more detail in a few minutes. So first, let's review our results for the quarter. First quarter RevPAR for our comparable hotels increased 6.1% driven by an increase in occupancy of 2.1 percentage points combined with an increase in average room rate of 2.9%. The RevPAR growth when combined with an impressive 5.9% increase in food and beverage revenues, plus the extra day on the calendar in February, generated a comparable revenue increase of 6.3% for the first quarter. Continuing a trend we saw developing in the fourth quarter of last year, our banquet and audiovisual revenue grew faster than our outlet and lounge revenue, as several of our larger hotels experienced meaningful increases in banquet activity.
The strong revenue performance in both rooms and F&B operations drove a 100 basis point improvement in our comparable hotel adjusted operating profit margins for the quarter.Adjusted EBITDA was $176 million, an increase of more than 22% over last year. Our first quarter adjusted FFO per diluted share was $0.14, which exceeded consensus estimates and reflected a nearly 17% increase over last year. Overall, we are extremely pleased with our operating results and the progress we are seeing in lodging fundamentals. A key driver of our first quarter results was a solid increase in demand in the higher price segments of our group and transient business, which continues some favorable trends we have seen develop at the end of last year and should lay the foundation for improved results in the future. Starting with our transient business, our Special Corporate and retail segment experienced demand in rate growth of more than 3.5%, leading to a combined revenue growth of better than 7%. Our discount segment saw demand growth of more than 2%, but the level of growth was restrained because of some weakness in government travel, which declined slightly. Overall, our first quarter transient results reflected a 3.5% increase in rate and a 3% increase in demand resulting in a 6.5% increase in revenue. On the group front, 2012 is off to a strong start. While group bookings for the quarter started the quarter ahead of the prior year, we improved further as bookings in the quarter for the quarter improved by more than 6% leading to an overall increase in group room nights of nearly 4%. The improvement was generated by a double-digit increase in association business and an increase in corporate group of more than 6%, as our discount group segment declined by over 5%. Combining the demand improvement with an average rate increase of 1.5%, resulted in increased group revenues of almost 5.5%.
Looking at the rest of the year, our outlook is even brighter. Group bookings for the remainder of the year surge by more than 13% compared to the prior year and are now approximately 7.5% ahead of last year's pace for the remaining 3 quarters and meaningfully positive in every quarter. The average rate for these bookings is up approximately 2% and our recent bookings have exceeded last year's rates by more than 8%. Both trends bode well for the future.Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com