Marriott International Inc. yesterday reported a 21 percent gain in net income in the first quarter of this year, fueled by increases in both occupancy and room rates.
The Bethesda-based hotel operator also attributed its earnings of $52 million on sales of just over $2 billion to higher franchise and incentive management fees, as well as the 24 properties added to its portfolio.
At the end of the quarter, March 24, Marriott operated 903 hotels and conference centers totaling 189,000 rooms.
"We are reaping the benefits of recovery in the U.S. economy and our principal industries," said Marriott International Chairman and President J. W. Marriott Jr. "At the same time, we are moving ahead with ambitious development programs which take advantage of our competitive leadership and financial strength."
In March, the company announced it would purchase a minority interest in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel chain, part of a further push into the luxury lodging market. The $200 million interest will add 31 hotels and 10,000 rooms to Marriott's portfolio.
Operating profit in the company's lodging division, which includes Marriott Hotels, Courtyard, Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn, rose 15 percent in 1995's first quarter, while its contract services division's operating profit gained 13 percent compared with the same period a year ago. In all, operating profit rose to $102 million, a 14.6 percent increase, from the first quarter of 1994.
Marriott International's shares closed yesterday at $35.25, up 87 cents.
The company also said that corporate and interest expenses were up by $4 million in the quarter, but the figures were offset by a $4 million rise in interest income from loans.