Marriott's Q4 Numbers Drop 20 Percent

Marriott International's fourth quarter earnings fell 20 percent, though the hotel operator saw a strong performance from its luxury brands Ritz-Carlton and Bulgari Hotels & Resorts. The hotel operator was adversely affected from the closure of its synthetic fuel business and is also tempering its extended forecast based on the slowing U.S. economy and the emergence of new hotel supply.

"We are looking at the future with some caution in mind," said Arne Sorenson, Marriott's chief financial officer. For 2008, Marriott says it expects worldwide and North American revenue per available room to rise 3 percent to 5 percent, which is down from its initial expectation of 5 percent to 7 percent.

Without the $60 million loss from discontinuing its fuel business, Marriott said it earned $236 million. The business made cleaner burning coal for tax credits.

Sorenson said luxury travel at the company's Ritz-Carlton brand remained strong, as did demand in overseas markets. (DE)