Host Hotels & Resorts Earnings Call Nuggets: Calendar Issues, Acquisition Cost Guidance

On Wednesday, Host Hotels & Resorts Inc (NYSE:HST) reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Calendar Issues

David Loeb – Robert W. Baird & Co.: Ed, I wonder if you could just expand a little bit on the calendar issues and I actually have a couple of questions on this, but first kind of simply, can you give us calendar third quarter RevPAR results for your portfolio and September results for your portfolio?

W. Edward Walter – President and CEO: David, we don’t have September yet. We haven’t really gotten much of the reporting in on a number of the monthly hotels at this point in time. I think our sense of what calendar would be us for the third quarter would be just short of 6%. So, still a pretty good quarter relative to the industry, but I think you’re right, in identifying it’s not quite as strong as our headline number.

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David Loeb – Robert W. Baird & Co.: Any sense for the last few weeks of September or the first week of October? Is that about what you thought relative to expectations or was it weaker or stronger?

W. Edward Walter – President and CEO: No, I think we had recognized a while ago that the timing of the Jewish holidays both sort of affecting group travel during the week and I think the prior year, one of the holidays I believe was on the weekend and the other was nearly – better positioned within the week. We knew it was going to be a difficult comparison year-over-year. So, there really hasn’t been any surprise out of that and obviously it doesn’t look great when you get a few weeks. But to be honest, as we tried to highlight in our comments relative to our outlook, I think the fourth quarter, we feel very good about the fourth quarter in general. So, especially these last three months of the year, our bookings are very strong, our transient bookings are very strong. So, we don’t see what’s happened in September as a sign of weakness for the fourth quarter. We think it was simply, one of those year-over-year problems that happens in our business. I think everyone should recognize. It probably will be a bit of a choppy fourth quarter because between the other items that we mentioned Halloween, the election, early Hanukkah, all those things are going to cause the results I think to be more abnormal than normal and so we’re going to see some great weeks and we’re going to see some not so great weeks, but overall, as we assess it, and obviously we improved our guidance based on both the third quarter strength, but also to the extent that the fourth quarter overall would continue to be strong.

David Loeb – Robert W. Baird & Co.: On the group piece of that, given your comments about fewer group weeks, fewer weeks basically that are easy for groups to book meetings, do you think there will be less meetings overall. Do you think it will broaden the geography of where those meeting are held, as in a broader set of hotels or more markets, or do you think that it will just be more meeting in the weeks that can have meetings?

W. Edward Walter – President and CEO: I would suspect that at the corporate level, it will be the latter, is that the corporate activity will be more condensed and that may mean that other hotels benefit that might normally not have. Overall, as we look at the quarter, we are still expecting group to be certainly up meaningfully in the fourth quarter. We do not expect group to be as strong in Q4 as it was in Q3, but that we had a pretty remarkable Q3 in group.

David Loeb – Robert W. Baird & Co.: So I guess that means that overall ADR in those weeks should be very, very good?

W. Edward Walter – President and CEO: That’s what you would hope.

Acquisition Cost Guidance

Eli Hackel – Goldman Sachs: Two questions or two topics. First is just on acquisition. I noticed a small amount, but I think acquisition cost guidance went down by million from last quarter to this quarter for the full. Was there anything behind that and as you look to 2013, would you expect to be given current market conditions and that buyer, net seller. Just more specifically on New York just want to focus in here on the supply picture, it seems that there is going to be a lot coming online, has come online, even over the next couple of years more will come online. What’s your broader outlook for New York and how do you currently assess your current exposure to the market?

W. Edward Walter – President and CEO: On the $1 million change in acquisition cost, Larry do you have a point on that.

Larry K. Harvey – EVP and CFO: Yes. The actual acquisition cost on the Grand Hyatt was lower than we expected. So that was part of the forecast. So that’s the reason for that.

W. Edward Walter – President and CEO: So that’s a good reason for that to have dropped. As we look at 2013, I would say that while are we certainly happy with the disposition pricing that we seem to be attracting on the assets that we are looking at selling, I also think that we feel fairly comfortable but this is going to be an extended cycle. So I would expect that we would continue to be active in 2013, whether it’s we are net acquirer or a net seller probably depends more on how attractive are the actual acquisition opportunity to develop over the course of 2013. But I think by and large our intent is to continue to be active in the year and if I were trying to plan it out perfectly I’d probably say we’d probably be about neutral in 2013. In New York, the supply challenges in New York continue. Our sense is that they are going to slowly but surely abate. When we look at our New York results, some of the softness that we experienced this year was relative to supply but a lot of it is relative to levels of construction that just hit practically every hotel we have in the market. I think really every hotel has some sort of construction going on this summer. So we still feel pretty good about New York. We certainly like the presence of the hotels that we’ve acquired in that market. We feel good about how they are positioned. We are certainly looking forward to seeing what our operating results will be next year with full rooms renovation at the Westin or W Union Square, the Helmsley will be opened for business with no construction. The W in Lexington has also had some construction this year that it won’t be replicated next year. I mean we’re feeling pretty good about how New York should play out next year for us.

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