Marriott International (MAR) Lifted to “Buy” at Zacks Investment Research

Zacks Investment Research upgraded shares of Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR) from a hold rating to a buy rating in a research note released on Friday morning. Zacks Investment Research currently has $158.00 price objective on the stock.

According to Zacks, “Marriott is currently benefiting from Starwood acquisition, rising North-American business, sizeable international exposure and an attractive brand-position. Marriot’s shares have outpaced the industry in the past year. The company also saw upward revisions for 2018 earnings over the last 60 days. Notably, with the acquisition of Starwood, Marriott became the world's largest hotel company. In fact, this buyout is likely to result in a bigger brand with increased scale and a robust development pipeline in the long run. Yet, lingering political uncertainties in key international markets and currency headwinds might continue to limit revenue growth. Moreover, integration risks linked to Starwood purchase is an added concern. Even so, its investments in technology for hotel bookings are anticipated to improve guest experience.”

Several other analysts have also recently commented on the company. BidaskClub cut Marriott International from a strong-buy rating to a buy rating in a research report on Thursday, October 5th. Royal Bank of Canada restated a buy rating on shares of Marriott International in a research report on Tuesday, November 7th. Morgan Stanley restated a buy rating on shares of Marriott International in a research report on Friday, December 8th. Barclays raised their target price on Marriott International from $105.00 to $130.00 and gave the company an equal weight rating in a research report on Tuesday, November 28th. Finally, Robert W. Baird set a $103.00 target price on Marriott International and gave the company a hold rating in a research report on Tuesday, October 17th. One investment analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, nine have assigned a hold rating, ten have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The stock has a consensus rating of Buy and an average target price of $114.26.

Shares of Marriott International (MAR) traded down $1.09 during midday trading on Friday, hitting $142.98. The company had a trading volume of 874,741 shares, compared to its average volume of 2,436,923. The company has a market cap of $51,890.00, a P/E ratio of 38.85, a price-to-earnings-growth ratio of 2.34 and a beta of 1.35. Marriott International has a 1-year low of $83.81 and a 1-year high of $144.07. The company has a current ratio of 0.52, a quick ratio of 0.52 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.83.

Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR) last announced its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, November 7th. The company reported $1.10 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, topping the consensus estimate of $0.98 by $0.12. The business had revenue of $5.66 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $5.22 billion. Marriott International had a return on equity of 31.58% and a net margin of 6.30%. The business’s revenue was up 43.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same quarter last year, the business posted $0.91 EPS. equities research analysts forecast that Marriott International will post 4.24 earnings per share for the current year.

Marriott International declared that its Board of Directors has initiated a stock repurchase plan on Thursday, November 9th that permits the company to buyback 30,000,000 outstanding shares. This buyback authorization permits the company to purchase shares of its stock through open market purchases. Stock buyback plans are often an indication that the company’s board believes its shares are undervalued.

The company also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Friday, December 29th. Stockholders of record on Wednesday, November 22nd were given a dividend of $0.33 per share. This represents a $1.32 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.92%. The ex-dividend date was Tuesday, November 21st. Marriott International’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently 35.87%.

In related news, EVP Anthony Capuano sold 19,510 shares of Marriott International stock in a transaction on Monday, December 18th. The stock was sold at an average price of $133.51, for a total value of $2,604,780.10. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 23,159 shares in the company, valued at approximately $3,091,958.09. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is accessible through this hyperlink. Also, insider Deborah Marriott Harrison sold 130,000 shares of Marriott International stock in a transaction on Friday, November 10th. The stock was sold at an average price of $119.17, for a total value of $15,492,100.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the insider now owns 114,155 shares in the company, valued at $13,603,851.35. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last quarter, insiders have sold 221,825 shares of company stock worth $27,378,820. 11.32% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently modified their holdings of the stock. AHL Partners LLP grew its holdings in shares of Marriott International by 230.4% in the 2nd quarter. AHL Partners LLP now owns 19,615 shares of the company’s stock worth $1,967,000 after acquiring an additional 13,679 shares during the last quarter. Numeric Investors LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Marriott International in the second quarter worth $772,000. California Public Employees Retirement System boosted its position in shares of Marriott International by 0.8% in the third quarter. California Public Employees Retirement System now owns 823,377 shares of the company’s stock worth $90,786,000 after buying an additional 6,837 shares during the period. State Board of Administration of Florida Retirement System boosted its position in shares of Marriott International by 0.7% in the third quarter. State Board of Administration of Florida Retirement System now owns 467,559 shares of the company’s stock worth $51,553,000 after buying an additional 3,140 shares during the period. Finally, Wells Fargo & Company MN boosted its position in shares of Marriott International by 3.7% in the third quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 1,305,913 shares of the company’s stock worth $143,989,000 after buying an additional 46,517 shares during the period. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 66.68% of the company’s stock.

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About Marriott International

Marriott International, Inc (Marriott International) is a lodging company. Marriott International operates in three business segments: North American Full-Service, North American Limited-Service and International. Its North American Full-Service segment includes its Luxury and Premium brands (JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels, Sheraton, Westin, Renaissance Hotels, Le Meridien, Autograph Collection Hotels, Delta Hotels, Gaylord Hotels, and Tribute Portfolio) located in the United States and Canada.

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