Wyndham Worldwide's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Wyndham Worldwide (WYN)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 25, 2012 8:30 am ET

Executives

Margo C. Happer - Senior Vice President of Investor Relations

Stephen P. Holmes - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Executive Committee

Thomas G. Conforti - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

Analysts

Joseph Greff - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

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

Carlo Santarelli - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Robert A. LaFleur - Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., Research Division

Christopher Agnew - MKM Partners LLC, Research Division

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

Michael Millman - Millman Research Associates

Presentation

Operator

Welcome to the Wyndham Worldwide First Quarter Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Today's conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. I would now like to turn the call over to Margo Happer, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations. Thank you, you may begin.

Margo C. Happer

Good morning. Thank you for joining us. With me today are Steve Holmes, our CEO; and Tom Conforti, our CFO.

Before we get started, I just want to remind you that our remarks today contain forward-looking information. This information is subject to a number of risk factors that may cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied. These risk factors are discussed in detail in our Form 10-K filed February 17, 2012, with the SEC.

We will also be referring to a number of non-GAAP measures. The reconciliation of these measures to GAAP is provided in the tables to the press release. It is also available on the Investor Relations section of our website at wyndhamworldwide.com. Steve?

Stephen P. Holmes

Thanks, Margot. Good morning, everyone. We're starting the year with great momentum. First quarter revenues increased 9% and adjusted EBITDA increased 8%. Significantly, adjusted EPS for the quarter grew 36% and came in $0.04 above the top end of our guidance range.

These results reflect strong operational performance in each of our businesses and the benefit of our share repurchase program. We continue to successfully execute against our operating plans with strong performance across the company. Lodging and Vacation Ownership each delivered double-digit EBITDA growth, excluding the intersegment license fee for the Wyndham Grand name.

In Lodging, RevPAR was up 7% with continued gains in both occupancy and rate. Vacation Ownership had an outstanding quarter supported by a strong consumer travel in the U.S. and continuing progress in optimizing marketing efficiencies.

And Exchange and Rental was highly effective in managing a difficult operating environment in Europe, as well as limited growth in the broader timeshare industry. Free cash flow was robust in the quarter at $1.30 per share, a 26% increase from the first quarter of last year. As you know, our capital allocation philosophy is to invest in our businesses at attractive returns and then to return the cash to shareholders. We continued delivering cash to shareholders again in the first quarter, repurchasing $3.6 million of our common stock and increasing our quarterly dividend by 53% to $0.23 per share.

In addition, this morning, we announced that our Board has approved an additional $750 million to be added to our share repurchase authorization. Over the past few years, we have achieved shareholder returns in excess of the industry and market benchmarks due to: First, the strength of our largely fee-for-service business models; second, our proven ability to optimize all of our businesses through superior execution; third, our focus on growing free cash flow; and finally, our capital allocation that includes an increasing dividend and the repurchase our shares.

We are very proud of what we've achieved, but we know that we have much to accomplish. As people in our office would tell you, my question usually is, what have you done for me lately? As management, it is our job to drive the growth of our business because a business without growth has diminishing value.

So let me tell you why I'm optimistic about our prospects for this year and beyond. First, while we're cautious about the euro, we continue to see a global economic recovery in line with our expectations. We have 2 significant customer events earlier this month, our Global Hotel Convention and the American Resort Development Association or ARDA Conference.

Our hotel convention, which is held every 18 months, brings together owners for all 15 of our widely known lodging brands. More than 5,000 owners and managers, as well as 130 suppliers were in attendance and we are able to get a very hands-on read of the state of the global hotel industry.

Since our last conference in September of 2010, there's been an obvious improvement in the mood and outlook of our franchisees and partners. Many of our suppliers saw increased order and lead activity and almost without exception, the owners and managers I spoke with strongly felt that things were improving.

And hotel owners are looking to invest in their hotels as well. So in addition to the numbers we are seeing, this is great confirmation that for us, the lodging and recovery is firmly established.

The mood was positive at the ARDA Conference as well but a bit measured as the small to medium developers continue to have limited access to capital. Attendance at over 2,500 was strong and we were encouraged by the number of new developers both domestic and international. Interesting timeshare continues to grow around the world, which bodes well for RCI and Wyndham Vacation Ownership.

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