February 25, 2010 / 2:15 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 4-Hyatt's 4th-qtr net loss narrows, shares jump

 * Narrower net loss on international demand, cost cuts
 * Occupancy has risen in markets around the world -CEO
 * Posts better-expected revenue
 * Shares up 4 percent  (Recasts first sentence, adds analyst comment, CFO comments, updates share movement, other details)
 By Deepa Seetharaman
 NEW YORK, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Hyatt Hotels Corp (H.N) posted a narrower fourth-quarter net loss and higher-than-expected revenue on Thursday, helped by cost-cutting and strong demand abroad, sending its shares 4 percent higher.
 Hyatt, controlled by the Pritzker family in Chicago, posted a net loss of $12 million, or 7 cents per share. A year ago, Hyatt posted a $142 million net loss, or $1.11 per share.
 Excluding a special charge of $13 million, the company broke even in the quarter, Hyatt spokeswoman Farley Kern said.
 Shares were up $1.28 or 4.1 percent at $32.43 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday afternoon. The quarterly results were Hyatt’s first since the company went public in November 2009.
 Strength in international markets, higher-than-expected revenue and cost-cutting helped fuel the beat, analysts said. Revenue per available room (revPAR) for Hyatt’s hotels abroad rose 0.4 percent.
 “International revPAR was actually positive. That was certainly better than most were expecting,” said FBR Capital Markets analyst Patrick Scholes. “That’s where the beat on the quarter came from.”
 Hyatt’s quarterly revenue rose slightly to $889 million from $886 million. Analysts had expected about $810 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
 Selling, general and administrative costs fell 25 percent.
 About one-quarter of Hyatt’s hotels are outside North America. During a conference call with analysts, Chief Executive Mark Hoplamazian said the company was seeking joint ventures to open hotels in emerging markets.
 Hyatt said revPAR for both its North American full-service and select service hotel segments fell more than 11 percent.
 Marriott International MAR.N and Starwood Hotels & Resorts HOT.N have also said their international hotels are faring better than their North American counterparts.
 DECLINE IN GROUP BOOKINGS SLOWS
 Roughly 45 percent of Hyatt’s revenue comes from so-called group business, or bookings from large events like conventions, company meetings or weddings.
 Bookings this segment are still trending below 2010, but the declines have been lessening since October 2009, said Hyatt Chief Finance Officer Harmit Singh during a conference call with analysts.
 “The rate of decline for revPAR has narrowed significantly compared to prior period,” Singh said, referring to revenue per available room.
 Unlike Marriott and Starwood, Hyatt also owns hotels. The company owns nearly a quarter of its properties. Hyatt is the world’s 10th-largest hotel company as measured by number of rooms, according to Smith Travel Research.
 From time to time, Hyatt may sell some properties in order to generate cash to put into other ventures, Hoplamazian said during the call. The timing of those sales is uncertain.
 Hyatt may also buy hotel debt to secure new properties or investing in existing hotels, a move that might eventually change the brand on that property.
  During the call, Hoplamazian said owning hotels helped Hyatt better manage hotels for third-party owners.
 “We like to say we eat our own cooking every day,” he said.  (Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman, edited by Maureen Bavdek, Dave Zimmerman and Matthew Lewis)   

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