Choice Hotels International Inc. was upgraded to neutral from underweight at J.P. Morgan on the assumption that the company will add a significant of number rooms. J.P. Morgan raised the price target to $46 from $43. Choice Hotels had 720 hotels in the pipeline at the end of the fourth quarter, up from 638 hotels at the end of the third quarter, J.P. Morgan wrote in a Friday note. The domestic new contruction pipeline is up 22% year-over-year, led by the Comfort and Cambria brands. "[W]e believe Choice Hotels is at a point where it can sustain positive, low-single-digit growth," analysts wrote. The company reported fourth-quarter earnings of 51 cents per share on Thursday, topping the FactSet estimate of 47 cents. Revenue of $211 million also exceeded the FactSet estimate of $195 million. Choice said it sees earnings for the first quarter of at least 38 cents per share, just below the 39 cents FactSet estimate. The company sees full-year 2016 earnings between $2.30 and $2.36, also below the FactSet estimate of $2.38. Choice shares are inactive in premarket trading and down 20.6% over the past year. The S&P 500 is down 8.6% over the past 12 months.
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