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US hotel profits on the rise
June 9 2014

The industry has fully recovered on a revenue basis, and it is only a matter of time before its profits fully recover.

  • Hotel industry revenue levels topped an estimated $163 billion.
  • Supply, demand and ADR saw new highs in 2013.
  • Income as a percent of revenue in 2013 was still a bit shy of what the industry achieved in 2007.
BROOMFIELD, Colorado—Hotel industry revenue levels topped an estimated $163 billion in 2013, with house profits nearing $60 billion and net operating income just more than $41 billion, according to STR Analytics’ HOST Almanac. STR Analytics is a sister company to Hotel News Now. 
These absolute levels represent new peaks, though fall shy of the record levels on a per-available-room and percent-of-revenue basis set in 2007.
The following chart details hotel industry profitability in the United States from 2001 to 2013. A few caveats: This data extrapolates only on scale with the total amount of properties reporting room revenue to STR, parent company of HNN, and uses all properties that reported profitability data, not just same-store properties. Also, house profit is defined as profit before deductions for fixed charges and management fees, while net income includes those deductions.
*Before debt service, interest expense, amortization, and depreciation
Same-store hotels realized NOI increases of 10% in 2013. The average property most likely to experience a profit decline in 2013 was an upper-midscale hotel (39% of all upper-midscale hotels registered declines), while luxury hotels were most likely to increase profit (89% of all luxury hotels did). 
Looking at the U.S. as a whole, most markets experienced increases in house profit in 2013. Those areas shaded in dark green enjoyed the strongest profit growth, while the darkest reds indicate greatest profit decline. With the exception of the Riverside/San Bernardino, California, market, house profit in the entire Western U.S. rose in 2013. Some areas of the Midwest and Texas struggled, along with a few pockets in the Southeast, the Eastern Seaboard and the Mid-Atlantic.
Room revenue’s relationship to market value
With most rooms available sold and highest rooms revenue breaking all-time records in 2013, the cash-flow performance for hotel assets continued to increase in 2013. Consequently, the market values remained strong and the number of distressed asset sales declined. While 13% of the asset trades that occurred in 2012 were distressed assets, 7% of the asset trades in 2013 were in a distressed situation.
The relationship of room revenue to market value is often a better gauge for pricing. In many cases, purchasers of hotels underwrite to a similar NOI percentage based on a “typical” management scenario regardless of how the hotel is performing. The adjustments vary significantly depending on the investor and/or management company’s experience and expertise. However, room revenue projections are often similar because it is more dependent on the competitive environment. Thus, investors’ valuation estimate in relation to room revenue is more consistent than capitalization rates, which are based on the bottom line. Moreover, investors focus on the revenue component of an asset because they have more comfort in their ability to control the expense levels.
There is a clear relationship between the asset classes and their respective room-revenue multipliers, with luxury properties around 5.6, economy at 3.7 and midscale hotels around 2.3. The multiplier is calculated by price over room revenue.
The price-per-room trends flow in a similar trickledown fashion to the room-revenue multipliers but are far more pronounced. They range from $35,000 per key for midscale properties to an average of $441,000 per room for luxury assets—almost 13 times higher.
Supply, demand and average daily rate saw new highs in 2013, and profitability data suggest operators were able to control costs, helping to push absolute net income levels to new highs. Luxury and upper-upscale hotels continued to lead the surge in profit, aided by steeper increases in ADR.
Overall, the industry has fully recovered on a revenue basis, and it is only a matter of time before it’s fully recovered on a profit basis as well. On a same-store, per-available-room basis, total revenue growth of 5.4% outpaced the increases of departmental and operating expenses, leading to a gross-operating-profit increase of 9%. Departmental and undistributed operating expenses saw modest increases of 3.8% and 2.8%, respectively. While the industry achieved record profits in total dollars in 2013, income as a percent of revenue was still a bit shy of what the industry achieved in 2007. By the end of 2014, it’s likely this record will be broken as well.
Caroline Agbemabiese
6/10/2014 1:23:00 PM
Having just passed my STAR Certification as a Graduate student of the University of Delaware, Newark DE, and looking forward to graduating in August 2014, I really appreciate the business implications of such reports about the hotel industry in the USA. FYI, the upper mid scale industry experiencing decline as indicated in this report, should think of diversifying to new geographical locations such as Africa where there is a trend in the growth of middle income earners and a burgeoning business community. Certainly, caution must be taken on conducting a rigorous scan of the environment to ensure security, return on investment and sustainability, among others. Dr. DeMicco and I are conducting a survey which is still live on meeting sphere platform, , thanks to Mick Blasik, on the global expansion of American hospitality industries in Africa and is yielding interesting and promising responses from experts. We will analyze these responses and come out with whatever findings that the data yield for this new trend in hotel development between the USA and Africa. Thank you for this article, the information is very valuable.
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