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Bull of the Day: Hilton (HLT)

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Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (HLT - Free Report) isn't afraid of Airbnb as it continues to launch new hotel brands. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is expected to grow earnings by the double digits in both 2019 and 2020.

Hilton is a hospitality company with 16 brands covering more than 5,600 properties in 113 countries and territories. It operates a popular loyalty program, Hilton Honors, with more than 85 million members.

Another Earnings Beat in the Fourth Quarter

On Feb 13, Hilton reported its fourth quarter results and blew by the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the 10th quarter in a row.

Earnings were $0.79 versus the consensus of $0.69.

System-wide comparable RevPAR rose 2% for the quarter and 3% for the year. It saw strength in the international hotels, particularly in Europe.

It also launched a new luxury collection brand, LXR Hotels & Resorts, in the quarter. Currently LXR Hotels has only one open location, in Dubai, but will be launching its second property, The Biltmore in Mayfair London. Both of these hotels were conversions.

In the fourth quarter, Hilton opened 142 new hotels totaling 22,500 rooms. For the full year, it opened over 450 new hotels. Conversions from non-Hilton brands made up nearly 25% of the new rooms opened during the year.

Hilton also expanded to 8 new countries and territories in 2018.

Analysts are Bullish on 2019

Hilton gave guidance of system-wide RevPAR of between 1% and 3%.

Earnings, adjusted for special items, is projected to be between $3.66 and $3.78.

This was well above consensus of just $3.10.

Therefore, it's not surprising that the analysts all raised their estimates following the report. 8 estimates were raised in the last 2 months which pushed the Zacks Consensus up to $3.76 from $3.10. That's at the high end of the company's guidance range.

It's also a 34.7% increase in earnings.

Analysts are bullish on 2020 too. 5 estimates were raised since the report for 2020 with the Zacks Consensus jumping to $4.17 from $3.64. That's another gain of 11%.

Shares Up Big in 2019

Like many stocks, Hilton shares have surged 20.1% year-to-date.

But you can see, on a 2-year basis, the shares have been trading in a narrow trading range.

Can they break out?

They're not cheap, with a forward P/E of 22.8.

However, the company is shareholder friendly. It pays a dividend, currently yielding 0.7%.

It's also buying back shares. To date, it has purchased $2.8 billion in shares and still has another $408 million remaining on its program.

Travel is still hot. For those looking for experienced players in hospitality, then Hilton is one to keep on your short list.

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