Marriott outlines COVID-19's 'unprecedented' Q1 effects

Marriott International added 88 new properties (14,525 rooms) to its worldwide lodging portfolio during the 2020 first quarter. Photo credit: Marriott International

Marriott International’s first-quarter 2020 results were dramatically impacted by the COVID‐19 global pandemic and efforts to contain it, according to the company.

Arne M. Sorenson, president/CEO, said the company has seen the impact of COVID-19 spread throughout its business in an unprecedented way.

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“Worldwide [revenue per available room] began the year with a strong 4.6 percent growth rate for January, excluding Greater China, where COVID‐19 was already impacting results. For the first two months of the year, worldwide RevPAR grew 3.2 percent, excluding the Asia Pacific region,” he said. “As the pandemic moved around the world, we saw global RevPAR fall sharply and, in April, worldwide RevPAR declined approximately 90 percent. Currently, roughly a quarter of our worldwide hotels are closed.

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“The resilience of travel demand is evident in the improving trends we see in Greater China. Occupancy at our hotels in the region reached 25 percent in April, up from less than 10 percent in mid‐February 2020.”

Sorenson said that based on Marriott’s occupancy and booking trends, it appears that lodging demand in most of the rest of the world has stabilized, albeit at very low levels. He pointed out that occupancy was around 20 percent over the past two weeks in North American limited‐service hotels, which are benefitting from leisure and drive‐to demand.

“As national, state and local restrictions around travel and business are gradually relaxed, we are preparing to welcome back our associates and guests. A large, and very important, part of that process is addressing their health and safety concerns while on property,” Sorenson said. “To that end, we are rolling out a multipronged platform to elevate cleanliness standards and hospitality norms to respond to the new health and safety challenges presented by the current pandemic environment.”

The number of rooms signed during the quarter was in line with the year ago quarter, and the development pipeline grew slightly to nearly 516,000 rooms, with 45 percent under construction, according to Sorenson.

“At the end of the first quarter, our rooms distribution around the world in 134 countries and territories had grown by 4.4 percent compared to one year prior. While we expect COVID‐19’s dramatic impact on the global economy will likely result in significantly lower new room openings than we had budgeted for 2020, we are already seeing an uptick in owner interest in discussing conversions to our brands.”

The company has taken “substantial steps” to preserve liquidity and mitigate the impact of these extremely low levels of demand.

“In addition to reducing our operating expenses dramatically, in mid‐April we issued $1.6 billion of senior notes and, last week, we announced amendments to our existing co‐brand credit card agreements with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and American Express, raising $920 million of additional liquidity,” Sorenson said. “We are confident we have sufficient resources to manage through this evolving situation. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted by the pandemic. These are extremely challenging times, but I am confident that we will be able to successfully navigate through them.”

First-Quarter 2020 Results

Marriott’s reported operating income totaled $114 million in the 2020 first quarter, compared to 2019 first quarter reported operating income of $510 million. Reported net income totaled $31 million in the 2020 first quarter, compared to 2019 first quarter reported net income of $375 million. Reported diluted earnings per share  totaled 9 cents in the quarter, compared to reported diluted EPS of $1.09 in the year‐ago quarter. Reported results in the 2020 first quarter included impairment charges, bad debt expense, and guarantee reserves of $193 million pretax ($148 million after‐tax and 45 cents per share), related to COVID‐19.

Adjusted operating income in the 2020 first quarter totaled $192 million, compared to 2019 first quarter adjusted operating income of $655 million. Adjusted operating income in the 2020 first quarter included impairment charges, bad debt expense and guarantee reserves of $180 million, related to COVID‐19.

First-quarter 2020 adjusted net income totaled $85 million, compared to 2019 first quarter adjusted net income of $482 million. Adjusted diluted EPS in the first quarter totaled 26 cents, compared to adjusted diluted EPS of $1.41 in the year‐ago quarter. These 2020 first-quarter adjusted results included impairment charges, bad debt expense and guarantee reserves of $138 million after‐tax (42 cents per share), related to COVID‐19. Adjusted results exclude merger‐related costs and (recoveries) charges, cost reimbursement revenue and reimbursed expenses.

Base management and franchise fees totaled $629 million in the 2020 first quarter, compared to base management and franchise fees of $732 million in the year‐ago quarter. The year‐over‐ year decline in these fees is primarily attributable to RevPAR declines related to COVID‐19, partially offset by unit growth and an increase in other non‐RevPAR related franchise fees. Other non‐RevPAR related franchises fees in the 2020 first quarter increased $7 million compared to the year‐ago quarter, largely due to an increase in residential branding fees. Credit card branding fees were roughly flat year over year.

Marriott recognized no incentive management fees in the 2020 first quarter, compared to incentive management fees of $163 million in the year‐ago quarter. While many of the company’s managed hotels earned incentive management fees in the quarter under the terms of their contracts, no incentive fees were recognized under accounting standards due to the significant uncertainty created by COVID‐19 as to the extent to which the company will be entitled to such fees on a full-year basis.

Contract investment amortization for the 2020 first quarter totaled $25 million, compared to $14 million in the year‐ago quarter. The year‐over‐year change largely reflects impairments of investments in management and franchise contracts.

Owned, leased and other revenue, net of direct expenses, totaled $8 million in the 2020 first quarter, compared to $50 million in the year‐ago quarter. Compared to the year‐ago quarter, the decline in results is primarily attributable to RevPAR declines related to COVID‐19.

Cost reimbursement revenue, net of reimbursed expenses totaled a loss of $80 million in the quarter, compared to a $136 million loss in the year‐ago quarter. The year‐over‐year improvement largely reflects the results of the loyalty program, which had lower marketing and redemption expenses.

Depreciation, amortization and other expenses for the 2020 first quarter totaled $150 million, compared to $54 million in the year‐ago quarter. The year‐over‐year change largely reflects a $90 million impairment charge associated with several leased hotels in North America.

General, administrative and other expenses for the 2020 first quarter totaled $270 million, compared to $222 million in the year‐ago quarter. Expenses in the 2020 first quarter include $65 million of bad debt expense due to higher projected loss rates and $14 million of guarantee reserves.

In the 2020 first quarter, the company incurred $15 million of expenses and recognized $17 million of insurance recoveries related to the data security incident it disclosed on November 30, 2018. The expenses and insurance recoveries are reflected in either the reimbursed expenses or merger‐related costs and (recoveries) charges lines of the Income Statement, both of which have been excluded from all adjusted results.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization totaled $442 million in the 2020 first quarter, compared to first quarter 2019 adjusted EBITDA of $821 million. First quarter 2020 adjusted EBITDA included $79 million of bad debt expense and guarantee reserves, related to COVID‐19.

Selected Performance Information

The company added 88 new properties (14,525 rooms) to its worldwide lodging portfolio during the 2020 first quarter, including nearly 2,100 rooms converted from competitor brands and approximately 7,200 rooms in international markets. Eighteen properties (3,670 rooms) exited the system during the quarter. At quarter‐end, Marriott’s global lodging system totaled more than 7,400 properties and timeshare resorts, with nearly 1.4 million rooms.

At quarter‐end, the company’s worldwide development pipeline totaled 3,035 properties with nearly 516,000 rooms, including 1,238 properties with over 230,000 rooms under construction and 149 properties with more than 24,000 rooms approved for development, but not yet subject to signed contracts.

In the 2020 first quarter, worldwide RevPAR declined 22.5 percent (a 22.7 percent decline using actual dollars). North American RevPAR declined 19.5 percent (a 19.5 percent decline using actual dollars), and international RevPAR declined 30.4 percent (a 31.3 percent decline using actual dollars).

Balance Sheet and Liquidity

At quarter‐end, Marriott’s total debt was $12.23 billion and cash balances totaled $1.76 billion, compared to $10.94 billion in debt and $225 million of cash at year‐end 2019.

In April 2020, the company issued $1.6 billion of Series EE Senior Notes due in 2025 with a 5.75 percent interest rate coupon. In early May, the company raised $920 million in additional liquidity through amendments to its co‐brand credit card agreements with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and American Express. The company expects to use the net proceeds from these transactions for general corporate purposes, including paying near‐term debt maturities.

As a result of the debt issuance and amendments to its co‐brand credit card agreements, the company’s net liquidity has increased to approximately $4.3 billion as of May 8, representing roughly $3.9 billion in cash and cash equivalents and $1.3 billion of unused borrowing capacity under its revolving credit facility, less $900 million of commercial paper outstanding.

The company repurchased 1 million shares of common stock in the 2020 first quarter for $150 million at an average price of $145.42 per share. The company halted further share repurchases in February and suspended its quarterly dividend beginning in the second quarter.

COVID‐19

Due to the numerous uncertainties associated with COVID‐19, Marriott cannot presently estimate the financial impact of this unprecedented situation, which is highly dependent on the severity and duration of the pandemic and its impacts but expects that COVID‐19 will continue to be material to the company’s results.

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