Choice Hotels reports record results for second quarter 2006 – net income up 12% over prior year.
“We continue to focus on brand enhancements and are seeing strong growth in occupancy, average daily rate and RevPAR,” said Charles A. Ledsinger, Jr., president and chief executive officer. “We are pleased with the substantial increase in year-to-date sales of our new construction brands, most notably with our Cambria Suites and Comfort Suites offerings.”
“We believe that the inherent strength of our business model, the ongoing improvements to our core brands, and the expansion of our newest brands will enable us to drive top-line and bottom-line growth in a variety of economic cycles,” Ledsinger added. “We are very pleased with the 13 percent increase in EBITDA over the prior year’s second quarter and remain confident about the company‘s long-term prospects.”
The company‘s third quarter 2006 diluted EPS is expected to be $0.46. Full-year 2006 diluted EPS is expected to be $1.45. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (“EBITDA”) is expected to be $175 million. These estimates include the following assumptions. The company has consistently used its free cash flow (cash flow from operations less capital expenditures) generated from its operations to return value to shareholders. This is primarily achieved through share repurchases and dividends.
For the six months ended June 30, 2006, the company paid $16.9 million of cash dividends to shareholders. The annual dividend rate per common share is $0.52.
The company has remaining authorization to purchase up to 5.1 million shares under the share repurchase program. Repurchases will continue to be made in the open market and through privately negotiated transactions subject to market and other conditions. No minimum number of shares has been fixed. Since Choice announced its stock repurchase program on June 25, 1998, the company has repurchased 33.6 million shares of its common stock for a total cost of $711.9 million through July 25, 2006. Considering the effect of a two-for-one stock split in October 2005, the company has repurchased 66.6 million shares at an average price of $10.69 per share.
The company expects to continue to return value to its shareholders through a combination of share repurchases and dividends, subject to market and other conditions. During 2005, the company acquired Suburban Franchise Holding Company, Inc. (“Suburban”), which included 67 Suburban Extended Stay Hotel units open and operating in the United States. The results of operations for Suburban have been included in the company‘s results of operations since September 28, 2005.
Choice Hotels International franchises more than 5,200 hotels, representing more than 430,000 rooms, in the United States and more than 40 countries and territories. As of June 30, 2006, 687 hotels are under development in the United States, representing 53,765 rooms, and an additional 65 hotels, representing 5,993 rooms, are under development in more than 20 countries and territories. The company‘s Cambria Suites, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Clarion, Sleep Inn, Econo Lodge, Rodeway Inn, MainStay Suites and Suburban Extended Stay Hotel brands serve guests worldwide.