Hilton profit falls 38pc; but business improves


BEVERLY HILLS: Hilton Hotels Corporation has reported that net income declined 38 per cent in the first quarter, but said business improved after the sharp decline during the post-September 11 travel crisis.

During the quarter, Hilton reported that revenues per available room, a widely watched industry benchmark, dropped 13.7 per cent compared with last year.

While the decline was steep, it improved over the drop of 22.8 per cent in the fourth quarter, when the travel industry coped with a big drop-off following the September attacks.

Beverly Hills, California-based Hilton reported first-quarter net income of $34 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with $55 million, or 15 cents, a year earlier.

Quarterly revenues fell 14 per cent to $921 million.

The consensus estimate among 14 analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call was for earnings of 5 cents per share, with a range of 4 cents to 7 cents.

A still sluggish US economy reduced demand from business travellers and international visitors, Hilton said. The weakened demand was offset by cost controls, strong sales at its Grand Vacations timeshare business, and a decline in interest expense.

Hilton said it expected second-quarter earnings in the low 20-cents-per-share range, including 3 cents from the elimination of goodwill amortisation.

It predicted revenues would decline by about five per cent to six per cent from a year ago.

The company said it expected full-year 2002 revenues to be down about one per cent due to 2001 property sales.