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Analyst Blog

The world’s largest hotel company, Marriott International, Inc. (MAR - Analyst Report) recently unveiled its first Marriott Hotel in Rwanda, bringing the brand to sub-Saharan Africa for the first time in its nearly ninety years of history.

The hotel, situated in Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali has 254 rooms and is among the country’s biggest and most luxurious properties. Kigali’s reputation as a hub for conferences and conventions will be further enhanced by the hotel’s world-class meeting spaces and modern amenities, thereby attracting both leisure and business travelers.

The company believes that Rwanda is going through an economic transformation and there is much to gain by being part of it. As reported by the World Travel & Tourism Council, Rwanda’s travel and tourism industry generated 7.1% of the country’s GDP last year and is predicted to rise at 4.1% annually through 2025.

The company has tried to render a large-scale positive impact on the entire community in Kigali via the sustainable approach it has taken in the staffing and supply of the hotel. The initiatives include partnering with community-based organizations like the Akilah Institute for Women to recruit and train Rwandan women for supervisory positions in the hotel.

The Kigali Marriott has also partnered with the Women for Women International and the Relationship Coffee Institute, to equip women with skills required for hotel jobs and to supply the hotel with goods such as baskets, honey and cheese. Moreover, the Kigali Marriott Question Café serves locally sourced coffee, while the hotel is incorporating an array of local goods in its retail store and menus.

All of these initiatives help reduce the company’s carbon footprint and elevate it on the Corporate Social Responsibility scale.


Marriott International Outlook

The Kigali Marriott opened a little over a week after Marriott completed its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which ultimately led to the creation of the world's largest hotel company. Marriott is currently operating or franchising more than 5,700 properties and 1.1 million rooms, in over 110 countries. With the completion of the acquisition, Marriott's distribution more than doubled in the Middle East and Africa combined.

Meanwhile, with the boost in the economy and an improvement in business and leisure travel, Marriott is well poised to grow in the near as well as long term. The company’s significant international exposure and an aggressive buyback strategy add to the positives. Further, its investments in technology for hotel bookings would improve guest experience, which in turn should boost occupancy.

However, lingering political uncertainty in key international markets and significant currency headwinds might restrict revenue growth.

Zacks Rank and Other stocks to consider

Marriott currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Better-ranked hotel stocks include China Lodging Group, Limited (HTHT - Snapshot Report) , Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Inc. (SNOW - Snapshot Report) and Peak Resorts, Inc. (SKIS - Snapshot Report) . While China Lodging sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Intrawest Resorts and Peak Resorts are currently Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) companies. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

China Lodging has recorded an average positive earnings surprise of 54.3% over the past four quarters, with a beat in each. Additionally, its growth estimate for the full year 2016 is pegged at 65.7% compared with the industry average of 21.7%.

Intrawest Resorts has received three upward revisions over the last 30 days as against zero downward revisions. Moreover, over the last 30 days its current year earnings estimates also increased from 28 cents to 60 cents.

Peak Resorts’ growth estimate for the full year 2016 is pegged at 200% compared with the industry average of 21.7%. Moreover, it has received three upward revisions over the last 30 days as against zero downward revisions.

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