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Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc (HOT), Marriott International Inc (MAR), Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (WYN): This Travel Industry Is Hot

With the rebounding economy, the hotel industry is heating up and it appears that Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc (NYSE:HOT) is the hottest. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc (NYSE:HOT) is a leading hotel and leisure company, with brands that include St. Regis, Westin, Sheraton, Four Points and Element — having over 1,000 hotels in 100 countries.

S&P noted that hotel room pricing was up 4.2% and occupancy was up 2.5%. Meanwhile, revenue per available room for same-store hotels was up 5% in 2012, with estimates for another mid- to high-single digit rate increase in 2013.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc (NYSE:HOT) is positioned nicely in international markets. Its earnings breakdown is weighted toward the America’s (45% of earnings), with Europe and the Middle East accounting for 15%, and Asia nearly 20%. The 55% of earnings generated from outside of the U.S. is well above any major peer. What’s more is that Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc (NYSE:HOT) hopes to boost its total number of hotels in China from 109 at the end of 2012 to 130 by 2013 end.

One of the key initiatives for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc (NYSE:HOT) is the transformation into more of a fee-based hotel operator. The fee-based business is more capital efficient than owning hotels, where the owner provides the capital to build the property and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc (NYSE:HOT) earns a fee for managing/franchising the hotel. Starwood hopes to generate some 80% of profits via franchise fees by 2016.

Starwood is also on a mission to downsize its underperforming properties. In the four years up to 2012, Starwood brought in $1 billion in sales, and it plans to generate another $3 billion by 2016.

Enjoying your stay elsewhere?

Although Starwood should see positive performance thanks to a rebounding economy, there might be other top hotel picks worth putting in your portfolio.

Marriott International Inc (NYSE:MAR) is another major lodging company with more than 3,700 properties in 73 countries and territories. Its brands include Marriott International Inc (NYSE:MAR), The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn and Residence Inn.

The one headwind for Marriott International Inc (NYSE:MAR) is that its has more exposure to North America versus some of the other major hoteliers. But the company hopes to change this. Marriott International Inc (NYSE:MAR)’s largest market outside of North America is China, where it plans to double the number of properties by 2015 and have hotels in fifty Chinese cities by 2016. Other international expansion plans include doubling its properties in Europe by 2015, and doubling its properties in Latin America by 2017.

Back in 2010, Marriott International Inc (NYSE:MAR) inked a deal with Spanish hotel group AC Hotels to manage and franchise a new lodging brand across Europe and Latin America. What’s more is that the brand belongs to the upper-moderate tier, (which should be pushed higher with a rebounding economy), and just earlier this year the company announced plans to launch the European brand in the Americas.

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