According to the Wall Street Journal, Marriott International Inc. (NYSE:MAR) is planning to more than double its number of properties in Europe in the next few years. The company is expected to announce its new target at the Hotel Investment Forum, a conference in Berlin today.
If the plan is successful, it would result in an additional 40,000 rooms in Europe. Currently, the company has 174 hotels in 24 countries in Europe that operate under the Marriott, Ritz Carlton and Renaissance brands.
The expansion in Europe is a strategic fit given the slow recovery of the U.S. hotel industry. Additionally, the expansion in Europe provides the company the opportunity to convert a number of independent hotels and therefore the growth should be faster.
Marriott reported fourth quarter earnings of 32 cents per share, 6 cents ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 26 cents. Results were also above the company’s guidance of 20 cents to 23 cents issued at the time of the third quarter earnings release back on October 8, 2009, but were down 3% year-over-year.
Results reflected higher-than-expected revenues as a result of sustained leisure demand driven by promotional measures. Additionally, business travel showed signs of improvement, mainly in international markets.
Marriott also continued to experience the benefits of several cost-control initiatives implemented over the last few quarters. Its total revenue was $3.4 billion, down 10.5% year-over-year. While the company continued to experience declines in revenue per available room (RevPAR) across all its brands, the rate of decline has somewhat moderated.