Marriott sees cash burn slowing as bookings recover from coronavirus lows

(Reuters) – Marriott International (MAR.O) said on Monday it expects cash burn for the year to be slower than previous estimated as bookings slowly recover from the coronavirus lows that pushed the hotel chain to post its first quarterly loss in nearly nine years.

The world’s largest hotel chain said it was seeing a steady recovery in occupancy rates across the world with economies reopening gradually, although it may take a few years for them to return to pre-COVID levels.

The company’s stock reversed course to rise 1.6% in early trading. The shares had fallen more than 3% premarket after the owner of Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis luxury hotel brands reported results.

“We see folks are increasingly willing to step out and travel,” Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorenson said.

“Leisure (demand) may continue to be a significant source of recovery past Labor Day and into the fall … but we would expect corporate to be slower.”

The hotel and the airline industries have been among the worst affected due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing Marriott and rival Hilton (HLT.N) to cut thousands of jobs and shut many hotels as cancellations started mounting.

Marriott said on Monday Greater China was leading the global recovery and the market could approach 2019 occupancy levels as early as next year.

Overall, the company’s global occupancy rates improved to 34% in the week ended Aug. 1, from 11% in April.

Marriott now expects a cash burn of $85 million a month in 2020, down from prior expectation of $145 million.

On an adjusted basis, Marriott reported a loss of 64 cents per share in the second quarter ended June 30, bigger than analysts’ expectation of a loss of 42 cents per share.

Total revenue plunged 72.4% to $1.46 billion.

Reporting and photo: Reuters

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