3 Top Hotel Stocks to Buy in 2017

There are several ways stock investors can get a piece of the hotel business. In addition to the obvious method of buying shares in a major hotel company, you could also purchase a real estate investment trust (REIT) that focuses on hotel properties or a company that operates hotels but also has other lucrative revenue streams. Here's an example of each type of stock that could be an excellent addition to your portfolio in 2017.

Stock prices and dividend yields are current as of May 15, 2017.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Marriott International

It seems appropriate to start the discussion with one of the hotel giants, Marriott International. As of the first quarter of 2017, Marriott's system included 6,161 properties, with another 2,500 in the pipeline. Between existing hotels and those yet to be completed, this translates to about 1.6 million total hotel rooms. Including the recently completed Starwood merger, Marriott has 30 hotel brands in its portfolio.

As I'll discuss more with the next pick, Marriott doesn't actually own its hotels. Rather, it provides management services and franchise opportunities and support for hotel owners.

So far, the results of the combined Marriott and Starwood operation look promising. In the most recent quarter, Marriott beat analyst expectations on both the top and bottom lines. Revenue per available room grew by more than 3% year over year, and the company has been taking advantage of high real estate values to sell some assets at a premium. Finally, the company is returning capital to shareholders rather aggressively, with $2 billion expected to be returned in 2017 alone.

2. Apple Hospitality REIT

It may come as a surprise to some investors, but hotel companies (like Marriott) often don't own all, or even most, of their hotel properties. Instead, they earn a substantial portion of their money through franchise income.

On the other hand, there are REITs, whose only business is owning hotel properties. These companies can be especially attractive options for income-seeking investors, as REITs are required to pay out the bulk of their income to investors as dividends.

Apple Hospitality Trustis my personal favorite hotel REIT. The company currently owns 235 hotels, all of which are under various Hilton or Marriott brand names, such as Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites, and Homewood Suites.

Basically, Apple Hospitality's business model is to build a geographically diverse portfolio of hotels that are newer and more desirable than those of competitors, and continually reinvest in the properties to maintain a competitive advantage. Finally, the company has lower debt and more financial flexibility than most of its peers.

3. Wynn Resorts

As a final stock, casino operator Wynn Resortsis a different approach to investing in hotels. In addition to the company's hotels, Wynn is a beneficiary of gaming revenue in addition to other sources, such as the properties' entertainment venues.

There are several good reasons to be excited about Wynn's future profits. Wynn Palace in Macau opened recently, and has already boosted the company's market share from 9% to 16% there. Wynn's plans for its Paradise Park addition to its Las Vegas property should add significant value for shareholders. Finally, Wynn recently started construction on the $2.4 billion Wynn Boston Harbor, scheduled to open in 2019 just outside of downtown Boston.

The bottom line is that these are three very different ways of investing in hotels that could be great additions to your portfolio in 2017. Each has different risks and growth potential, so be sure whichever you choose is appropriate for your objectives.

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Matthew Frankel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Marriott International. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.