Marriott 4Q profit falls on timeshare spinoff

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By SAMANTHA BOMKAMP, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Marriott International Inc. said Wednesday its fourth-quarter net income fell 18 percent, hurt by a one-time charge tied to the spinoff of its timeshare business.

The Bethesda, Md., company earned $141 million, or 41 cents per share, compared with $173 million, or 46 cents per share, a year earlier. Taking out one-time items in both periods, it earned $159 million, or 46 cents per share, compared with $135 million, or 35 cents per share in the fourth-quarter of 2010.

Revenue inched higher to $3.69 billion from $3.64 billion the year before.

The results fell short of Wall Street's expectations, and shares fell slightly in afterhours trading after the results were released. According to FactSet Research, analysts expected an adjusted profit of 47 cents per share on revenue of $3.74 billion. They usually exclude one-time items from their estimates.

Revenue per available room — a key measure of health for hotel companies — rose 5.9 percent in the quarter. That metric grew at a faster rate in North America than the rest of the world.

For 2011, the company earned $198 million, or 55 cents per share, compared with $458 million, or $1.21 per share, in 2010. Adjusted net income rose 23 percent.

Revenue rose to $12.32 billion from $11.69 billion the year before.

Marriott, which also operates Ritz-Carlton and other lodging brands, expects growth to continue this year as increases in the number of hotel rooms overall slows in North America, allowing for higher prices if demand continues to rise. For the first quarter, the company expects revenue per available room to rise between 5 and 6 percent across North America and worldwide.

"We are bullish about the long-term growth prospects for both Marriott and the global lodging industry," J.W. Marriott, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Marriott International, said in a statement. "With a growing middle class and rapid economic growth in many emerging markets, global demand is increasing steadily."

For 2012, Marriott sees emerging markets driving strong global growth.

It said it expects to earn between $1.52 and $1.64 per share for the year. Analysts currently project $1.59 per share, on average.

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