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Marriott International reports smaller profit during a shorter reporting period

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Marriott International said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter net income fell 17 per cent after the hotel company shortened its quarter.

The Bethesda, Md.-based company is changing its reporting calendar. But the hotel chain, best known for brands like Courtyard, Ritz-Carlton and Fairfield Inn, said its operations improved. It was one of the few consumer-oriented companies not to report any decline because of rough winter weather.

Snow can sometimes help hotels, said Laura Paugh, senior vice-president of investor relations, in an interview.

"The colder it is in the Northeast, the more likely (people) are to head south," she said. "The Christmas season was fantastic," particularly in Mexico and the Caribbean.

The company's revenue per available room — or REVPAR — rose 4.3 per cent to $98.22.For North American hotels, that key figure rose 5.1 per cent, with the high-end Ritz-Carlton brand seeing the biggest jump at 10.4 per cent.

New hotels also helped. During 2013, Marriott's portfolio of owned, franchised or managed hotels grew by 155 to 3,916 properties. The number of rooms grew by 2.3 per cent to 675,623 worldwide.

For 2014, Marriott expects REVPAR to climb 4 to 6 per cent in North America and 3 to 5 per cent elsewhere.

The company reported net income of $151 million, or 49 cents per share, for the 92 days that ended Dec. 31. That was down from the $181 million, or 56 cents per share, it earned in 2012 during a 112-day quarter.

Marriott says revenue fell 14 per cent, to $3.22 billion from $3.76 billion.

Wall Street had predicted the company would earn 49 cents per share on revenue of $3.37 billion, according to FactSet.

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