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Marriott Profit Falls 7%, But Results Top Analysts' Estimates

Hotel chain operator Marriott International said its fourth-quarter profit fell 7% due to lower contributions from its synthetic fuel business, but adjusted results beat Wall Street expectations as business travel demand drove strong pricing.

Net income dropped to $220 million, or 52 cents a share, versus $237 million, or 54 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The company's synthetic fuel business contributed about $1 million to 2006 quarterly results, down sharply from $33 million, or 7 cents a share, last year.

Adjusted earnings, which exclude synthetic fuel, totaled $219 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with $204 million, or 46 cents a share, a year earlier.

Revenue climbed to $3.86 billion, up 6% from $3.64 billion in the 2005 period, as management and franchise fee revenue rose 19% and incentive management fees soared 39%.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were expecting profit of 49 cents a share on revenue of $3.76 billion.

RevPAR, or revenue per available room, a key industry measure, increased 8.4% for global systemwide properties open at least a year. International systemwide same-store revPAR increased 13.9% in the quarter.

The company, which operates such brands as Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott and Fairfield Inn, has more than 2,800 lodging properties in the U.S. and 67 other countries.

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