Hilton Misses Profit Estimates as U.S. Travel Costs Rise


Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (NYSE:HLT), owner of the Conrad and Waldorf Astoria hotel brands, forecast profit below market estimates for the first quarter as well as for the full year.

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Travel to the United States from other countries is widely expected to slow as the dollar keeps strengthening, making a U.S. holiday or business trip more expensive for overseas visitors.

Hilton, which recently sold its Waldorf Astoria New York hotel to China-based Anbang Insurance Group Co for $1.95 billion, gets about three-fourth of its revenue from the United States.

The company's owned hotels business was "pretty reliant" on New York even after selling Waldorf Astoria, Macquarie Research analyst Chad Beynon said.

"That's probably part of the reason why Q1 guidance could be a little conservative... also from an international FX (foreign exchange) standpoint."

The dollar <.DXY> gained nearly 13 percent against a basket of major currencies last year and is expected to rise further.

Hilton said it expects an adjusted profit of 10-12 cents per share for the first quarter on Wednesday.

Analysts were expecting 15 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company forecast an adjusted profit of 78-83 cents per share for the full year, below analysts' estimates of 85 cents.

Rival Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc <HOT.N> blamed a rising dollar for its lower-than-expected profit forecast. The owner of the Sheraton and Westin brands has nearly half its properties outside North America.

Revenue per available room (RevPAR) increased 6.8 percent at U.S. hotels open for at least a year in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, Hilton said.

Worldwide comparable RevPAR rose 6.6 percent. RevPAR, a metric of hotel health, is calculated by multiplying a hotel's average daily room rate by its occupancy rate.

Revenue rose to $2.83 billion from $2.64 billion a year earlier.

Net income attributable to shareholders rose to $158 million, or 16 cents per share, from $26 million, or 3 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, Hilton earned 17 cents per share.

Analysts expected a profit of 18 cents per share on revenue of $2.72 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Hilton shares were down about 2 percent in premarket trading. They have risen about 10 percent this year up to Tuesday's close of $28.65, outperforming a nearly 1 percent rise in the Dow Jones U.S. Travel & Leisure Index <.DJUSCG>.

(Editing by Joyjeet Das)