Starwood Stays Mildly Hot (HOT)

Douglas A. McIntyre

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) has come out with earnings early this morning at $0.44 EPS from operations excluding special items, or a net of $0.42 EPS.  While these numbers are lower than last year, they are well above the First Call estimate of $0.25 EPS.

The hotel and resort operator repurchased approximately 6.1 million shares for approximately $277 million in the first quarter, leaving some $316 million available for repurchases.

The company said that overall lodging trends remain strong, but uncertainty makes predicting results ahead difficult.  For next quarter it is targeting $0.50 to $0.54 EPS and for 2008 its target is $2.40 to $2.58 EPS.  First Call had next quarter at $0.55 EPS and 2008 EPS at $2.42.

The assumptions are still based around some growth and still based around conditions not deteriorating further, but overall this is a fairly impressive report compared to what the overall expectations would have pointed to.

With over three hours to the open it is too soon to see real indications.  Shares closed at $49.62 yesterday, and the 52-week trading range is $37.07 to $75.45.

Jon C. Ogg
April 24, 2008