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solzberg in Gainers & Losers,

Will solid Q3 figures drive Mariott's shares?

Marriott International, the world’s second-largest publicly traded hotel chain, issued decent financials for the third quarter of 2015. Revenues increased 3.4% y-o-y to $3.58 bn, mostly in line with consensus estimates, on the back of strong demand and high occupancy rates, partially offset by negative impact of foreign exchange translation. Worldwide comparable systemwide RevPAR grew 4.5% in constant currency, within management’s expectation of a 4-6% increase, driven by a 4% rise in average daily rate (ADR). Occupancy climbed 0.4 percentage points to nearly 78%. Adjusted EBITDA was $431 mn, up 10% y-o-y, and EBITDA margin improved 0.6 percentage points to 12%. Adjusted earnings per share jumped 20% y-o-y to 78 cents and were 4 cents ahead of analysts’ average projection.

During Q3, 68 new properties with 10,253 rooms were added to Marriot’s existing hotel portfolio. Currently, the company boasts as many as 4,364 lodging properties and timeshare resorts, comprising a total of nearly 750,000 rooms. Nearly 1,591 properties with over 260,000 rooms are either under construction or undergoing conversion to Marriott’s brands.

In Q3, Marriott repurchased 9.8 mn shares for $702 mn, bringing year-to-date tally to $1.9 bn. For full year 2015, the company expects to return more than $2.25 bn to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks.

Marriott narrowed its earnings guidance for 2015 and expects it in the range of $3.12-3.16 per share, up 23-24% y-o-y, compared with the previous expectation of $3.10-3.18 per share. Adjusted EBITDA is forecast to total $1.729-1.749 bn, a 13-15% increase over the 2014. The company anticipates net room additions of approximately 6-7% worldwide for 2015, including the 9,600 rooms from the acquisition of the Delta brand. For 2016, Mariott projects worldwide comparable system-wide RevPAR growth of 4-6% on a constant currency basis.

Currently, Marriott’s shares are testing a $77.5 resistance level. I'd buy on breaking it, with short-term aim at $84.