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Marriott CEO: 'We are encouraged about the pace of recovery'

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·2 min read
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Despite rising geopolitical tensions and a pandemic that is far from over, Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano sees some upbeat trends in his business ahead of the key summer vacation season.

"We are encouraged about the pace of recovery. We saw a little bit of a pause related to the Omicron variant [in bookings]. But forward bookings are already now ahead of where we were before that variant emerged," Capuano said on Yahoo Finance Live.

Added Capuano, "We absolutely are anticipating leisure [travel] to continue to strengthen, particularly because so much of the leisure demand we have seen over the last few quarters has been almost entirely domestic. As more and more borders open, we expect that cross border travel to strengthen. Our hope and expectations are that the business travel and group segments will continue to strengthen steadily."

Capuano's comments come on the heels of another quarter of improvement in the hotel giant's business compared to the depths of the pandemic.

Tulips decorate the River Market area of downtown Little Rock in the spring, including in front of this Marriott Hotel.
Tulips decorate the River Market area of downtown Little Rock in the spring, including in front of this Marriott Hotel. Credit: Getty

Fourth quarter comparable systemwide RevPar (revenue per available room) rose 124.5% worldwide. In the U.S. and international segments, RevPar increased 143.6% and 83.3%, respectively.

Worldwide hotel occupancy increased to 57.6% from 34.7% a year ago.

The improvement in the business as Capuano — who just passed his first year as CEO — considering bringing back Marriott's dividend. Marriott suspended its dividend at the height of the pandemic in March 2020.

The company had been paying out a quarterly 48 cents a share dividend.

"If the recovery continues to proceed as we expect, it's reasonable to assume we will start capital returns to shareholders in the back half of 2022. I think our CFO said [on the earnings call] it would likely start with reinstatement of the dividend. We have not shared any specifics. We want to give a little more run time through the balance of the first and second quarter," Capuano added.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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