07/31/2013 05:01 EDT | Updated 09/30/2013 05:12 EDT

Marriott International 2Q earnings rise with travellers willing to spend more on hotel rooms

Hotel giant Marriott International Inc. said Wednesday that second-quarter earnings rose as business and leisure travellers continued to book hotel rooms and paid slightly more for them.

Marriott, based in Bethesda, Md., earned $179 million, or 57 cents a share, in the three-month period ended June 30. That's up from $143 million, or 42 cents per share, a year ago.

A change in the company's fiscal year meant seven extra days in the quarter this year compared to last year.

Revenue rose 18 per cent to $3.26 billion.

Analysts expected earnings of 57 cents per share and revenue of $3.20 billion, according to FactSet.

The company's revenue per available room — or REVPAR — was $129.59, up 4.4 per cent from the prior year. That key figure increased thanks to slightly higher occupancies and a 3 per cent gain in the rates charged to guests.

"Both business and leisure transient demand were strong in the quarter, more than offsetting weak short-term group business," Arne M. Sorenson, Marriott president and CEO, said in a statement.

"As occupancy rates reach 2007 peak levels for many brands, room rates are moving higher, improving hotel profitability and incentive fees," Sorenson said.

Marriott now expects its revenue per available room to increase 4 to 6 per cent worldwide for the full year, down from its outlook last quarter for growth of 4 to 7 per cent.

The company expects its annual earnings per share to be $1.92 to $2.03, slightly lower than Wall Street analysts' estimate of $2.04. Marriott's stock fell about 2.6 per cent in after-hours trading. It gained 18 cents to $41.57 in the regular session.

Marriott doesn't own most of the hotels in its system but makes money off either managing or franchising its 18 brands. Those include Ritz-Carlton, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Courtyard, SpringHill Suites and Renaissance.

Marriott added 43 new properties, with a total of 6,203 rooms, to its worldwide lodging portfolio in the quarter. Eighteen properties, with 3,225 rooms, exited the system. As of June 30, the company was responsible for 3,847 properties and timeshare resorts globally with more than 666,000 rooms.

The company's worldwide pipeline of hotels under construction, awaiting conversion or approved for development increased to nearly 850 properties with more 140,000 rooms.