May 2, 2017 / 10:24 AM / 5 months ago

Hilton's profit lifted by corporate travel boost

FILE PHOTO: The logo of an Hilton hotel is seen at Schiphol airport near the city of Amsterdam, the Netherlands March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

(Reuters) - Hotel operator Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc (HLT.N) on Tuesday reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its earnings forecast for the year, helped by a boost in business travel following the U.S. presidential election.

Hilton, the owner of the Waldorf Astoria hotel chain, said in February that it had seen a pick-up in corporate demand in January — an otherwise typically light month for bookings — after the election, on improved business sentiment.

U.S. stocks have hit record levels following Donald Trump’s election as president. The S&P 500 .SPX index has climbed 6.7 percent this year.

Hilton, which owns the Conrad and Double Tree hotels, said it now expects 2017 earnings of $1.73-$1.81 per share, up from a prior forecast of $1.65-$1.75 per share.

More than three-quarters of Hilton’s first-quarter profit was wiped out, however, due to the spinoff of most of its real estate assets into a tax-efficient real estate investment trust and its timeshare business into a publicly traded company.

The spinoffs were completed in January.

Net income attributable to Hilton stockholders was $74 million, or 22 cents per share, in the quarter. The company’s net income in the year-ago quarter was $309 million, or 94 cents per share, reflecting $119 million from discontinued operations.

Excluding one-time items, Hilton earned 38 cents per share, beating analysts’ average expectation of 28 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room) at the company’s hotels grew 3 percent in the quarter, helped mainly by higher occupancy.

RevPAR, a key measure of hotel health, is calculated by multiplying a hotel’s average daily room rate by its occupancy rate.

Revenue jumped 25.2 percent to $2.16 billion. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $2.06 billion.

Hilton’s shares had risen about 36 percent in the 12 months to Monday, including a 3.2 percent gain this year.

Reporting by Radhika Rukmangadhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar

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