REUTERS

The Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, a hotel of the Starwood chain, is pictured in Lombard, Illinois. (REUTERS)

Starwood Profit Jumps, to Spin Off Timeshare Business

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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc reported an 83 percent jump in quarterly profit and said it would spin off its timeshare business to focus on its core hotels business.

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Shares of the owner of the St. Regis and Sheraton brands of hotels rose 5 percent to $74.80, making them the top percentage gainer among S&P 500 constituents in premarket trading.

Starwood's timeshare business allows customers to buy vacation time for use at a specified time during the year. The business generated revenue of about $640 million in 2014, or nearly 11 percent of the company's annual revenue.

After flat to declining revenue growth for four straight quarters, revenue in the business increased 15.2 percent in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.

"Not only does SVO (Starwood Vacation Ownership) continue to have a great outlook for growth, but valuations for timeshare companies are at attractive levels," said Chief Executive Frits van Paasschen said.

The company's net income rose to $234 million, or $1.34 per share, in the fourth quarter, from $128 million, or 68 cents per share, a year earlier.

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Revenue fell 1 percent to $1.49 billion. Worldwide systemwide revenue per available room, or ReVPAR, for hotels open at least a year rose 4.4 percent in constant dollar terms.

Starwood said the spin off of the timeshare business is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Citigroup and Credit Suisse were financial advisers on the spin-off.

Through Monday, Starwood's stock had fallen about 6 percent this year, compared with a roughly 12 percent fall in the Dow Jones U.S. Hotels Index. (Reporting by Radhika Rukmangadhan and Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)