Monday, October 13, 2008

Marriott International Reports Third Quarter Results

BETHESDA, MD/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Third Quarter Highlights:

-- Worldwide comparable company-operated revenue per available room (REVPAR) rose 3.4 percent (1.1 percent using constant dollars) for the third quarter ended September 5, 2008;

-- Outside North America, comparable company-operated REVPAR increased 13.4 percent (5.7 percent using constant dollars) with double-digit growth in South and Central America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East;

(Marriott corporate headquarters building, Bethesda, MD, middle left photo)

-- In a weak economic environment, North American comparable company-operated REVPAR declined 1.0 percent with a 1.6 percent increase in average rate;

-- The company's worldwide pipeline of hotels under construction, awaiting conversion or approved for development totaled over 130,000 rooms;

-- Over 6,500 rooms opened during the third quarter, including almost 2,300 rooms outside North America.

Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE:MAR) has reported third quarter 2008 adjusted income from continuing operations of $123 million, an increase of 1 percent over the year-ago quarter, and adjusted diluted earnings per share ("EPS") from continuing operations of $0.34, up 10 percent.

(Marriott Denver International Hotel, middle right photo)

The company's EPS guidance for the third quarter, disclosed on July 10, 2008, totaled $0.30 to $0.35.

Adjusted results for the 2008 quarter exclude a $29 million ($0.08 per diluted share) after-tax non-cash charge primarily related to a 1994 tax planning transaction.

Reported income from continuing operations was $94 million in the third quarter of 2008 compared to $122 million in the year-ago quarter.

Reported diluted EPS from continuing operations was $0.26 in the third quarter of 2008 compared to $0.31 in the third quarter of 2007.

J.W. Marriott, Jr., (top right photo) Marriott International's chairman and chief executive officer, said, "In our more than 50 years in the lodging business, we have focused our business strategy on meaningful competitive advantages -- strong brands, skilled management, and leading guest, owner and franchisee preference -- all combined in a time-tested business model of managing and franchising hotels.

"These attributes drive strong returns when the economic picture is bright and allow us to outperform competitors when times are more challenging. The third quarter demonstrated those advantages.

(Marriott Wailea Beach Resort and Spa, Hawai, middle left photo)

"With soft economic growth, our third quarter North American REVPAR declined modestly. Favorable international REVPAR and strong global unit growth enabled our fee revenue and operating income to remain steady. Over the past 12 months, we have opened over 200 hotels, including over 30 hotels converted from competitor brands.

"Our timeshare business has certainly been far more impacted by the current financial environment than our core lodging business.

" Tight credit, soft consumer spending and a difficult securitization market have lowered our expectations for the fourth quarter and 2009.

"However, our strong brands, high customer satisfaction and loyalty, and the terrific know-how of our associates will reward us in the future. Our financial leverage is modest, we have ample liquidity, and our market share continues to grow.
(Marriott World Center Resort, Orlando, bottom right photo)

"Increasingly, our presence is global. During the quarter, nearly 70 percent of the company's incentive fees were earned at properties outside North America. Today, our pipeline of hotels under development totals over 130,000 rooms worldwide.

We expect to open approximately 30,000 rooms in 2008 and 30,000 to 35,000 rooms in 2009. Companywide we are maximizing revenue opportunities and operating efficiencies while redefining and refreshing our brands. We're confident that as the economy strengthens, we'll be well positioned to achieve solid earnings growth."

For a complete copy of Marriott's news release, please contact:

Tom Marder of Marriott International, Inc., +1-301-380-2553,

Equitable Resources Leases 257,000 SF at 625 Liberty building in Pittsburgh, PA

PITTSBURGH, PA /PRNewswire/ -- Equitable Resources, Inc., has leased 257,000 square feet of office space in the building currently known as 625 Liberty Avenue.(top right photo)

The company, the largest natural gas company in the Appalachian Basin -- and one of the largest in the country -- needs the additional space to accommodate rapid growth in its production and midstream business units.

Equitable Resources is widely recognized as a technology leader in the industry. The company currently holds natural gas drilling rights to more than 3.3 million acres in the Appalachian region and operates more than 13,000 gas wells, and 15,000 miles of pipeline throughout Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

"There are other natural gas producers operating in Appalachia, but we call the region our home -- so locating our headquarters at the Gateway to Appalachia is a 'natural'," said Murry Gerber, Equitable Resources' Chairman and CEO.

"Our production and midstream businesses have experienced tremendous growth, due in large part to our employees' ability to both innovate and deliver everyday results."

"Pennsylvania is committed to creating an environment where businesses can thrive," DCED Secretary Dennis Yablonsky (middle right photo) said. "State support helped Equitable Resources expand in the commonwealth, and hundreds of new jobs will be generated for the hard-working men and women of southwestern Pennsylvania."

A joint statement was issued by Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato (bottom left photo) and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (top left photo):

"We are delighted that Equitable Resources is solidifying its presence in southwestern Pennsylvania by retaining the location of its utility on the North Shore and expanding Equitable Resources' production and midstream operations in Downtown Pittsburgh.

"Equitable Resources' decision is further proof that our region can successfully compete with other areas of the country to create jobs and further economic development."

Equitable Resources expects to begin moving its employees into the 625 Liberty Avenue building beginning in Spring, 2009; the transition is expected to be complete by the end of Summer, 2009.

The company's natural gas utility, a subsidiary, will continue to operate out of its North Shore building.Equitable Resources, Inc. is an integrated energy company with an emphasis on Appalachian area natural gas supply, gathering, processing, transmission and distribution.

CONTACT: Wayne J. Desbrow, Director, Communications of EquitableResources, Inc., +1-412-553-5738 Web site:

Jones Lang LaSalle Reports Slow Office Leasing in Metro Washington, D.C. Markets

10.1 million s.f. were under construction at quarter’s end with 76 percent of that space available for lease

The Washington, DC office market consists of nine submarkets including Capitol Hill, the Central Business District, East End, Georgetown, NoMa, Southeast, Southwest, Uptown and the West End.

(The nation's Capitol, top right photo)

WASHINGTON, DC--The combination of a summer slowdown, uncertainties regarding the next administration and national economy and unstable credit markets produced slow leasing and sales velocity throughout Washington, DC’s nine submarkets in the third quarter of 2008, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

Renewals represented the majority of leasing activity with the federal government, for the first time in several years, accounting for the vast majority of the occupancy gains / expansions posted during the quarter.

Looking ahead, options for tenants will continue to increase through the fourth quarter of 2008 and into 2009 as 10.1 million s.f. were under construction at quarter’s end with 76 percent of that space available for lease.

(Federal Reserve Bank building, middle left photo)

With vacancy levels continuing to increase, rent growth will remain curbed, with rent decreases likely to continue in the outlying markets of Southeast, NoMa and Southwest and certain parts of the outer-core CBD and East End Commodity A markets.

For a detailed copy of the Jones Lang LaSalle report, please contact:

Dave Bevirt, (bottom left photo) Managing Director, Agency Leasing

Greg Lubar, (middle right photo) Managing Director, Tenant Representation

John Sikaitis, Senior Vice President, Communications,

World’s Largest Ramada Hotel Opens in Mecca, Saudi Arabia

PARSIPPANY, N.J. (Oct. 13, 2008) – Ramada Worldwide today announced the grand opening of its largest hotel, a 998-room property in the Islamic holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Located in the holy district of the Haram, a site of the highest sanctity, and less than a quarter of a mile from the Holy Mosque, the 29-story Ramada® Makkah (top left photo) caters to guests looking to make the pilgrimage to Mecca during the Hajj and Umrah seasons.

In addition to being located within walking distance of many of the city’s holy sites the property offers private underground parking, four restaurants and meeting space for up to 250 guests. Each room features high-speed Internet access, free local and long distance telephone calls, a 26-inch plasma television and an in-room safe.

The hotel, owned by Riyada International Hotels and Resorts and managed by Al Massa Hotels Company, is the Ramada brand’s second property in Mecca and its 11th in Saudi Arabia.

“With the opening of this property, Wyndham Hotel Group builds upon an already strong relationship with Riyada International Hotels and Resorts as well as Al Massa Hotels,” said Sean Worker, (bottom right photo) Wyndham Hotel Group senior vice president and managing director, international operations.

Riyada International Hotels and Resorts Company, developer and master licensee of Ramada hotels in Saudi Arabia, offers a wide range of hotel management and license services and specializes in the areas of hotel development and operations.

The company currently operates 10 properties in eight major cities throughout Saudi Arabia.

(Photo at left shows pilgrims on the Hajj, filling the Great Mosque in the city of Mecca.)

Al Massa Hotels Company owns, operates and has equity interests in more than 20 hotels throughout Saudi Arabia, with a focus in the city of Mecca. In addition to operating five hotels under the Ramada brand name, the company also operates hotels under its own brand name of Al Massa.

Ramada Worldwide, a member of the Wyndham Hotel Group family of lodging brands, is a chain of hotels featuring complimentary breakfast, high-speed Internet access, spa-inspired amenities and daily newspaper.

As of June 30, 2008 the brand had over 860 properties and 107,200 rooms. Select properties offer complimentary meeting rooms; banquet facilities; copy and fax services; swimming pools; and fitness centers.

Reservations and information are available by visiting Ramada hotels are independently owned and operated under franchise agreements with Ramada Worldwide, a subsidiary of Wyndham Worldwide Corporation (NYSE: WYN).

Christine Da Silva
Director, Media Relations
Wyndham Hotel Group
1 Sylvan Way
Parsippany, NJ 07054

Ratings On 25 AIG-Related Housing Bond Issues Put On CreditWatch Negative

NEW YORK --Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has placed 25 housing bond ratings on CreditWatch with negative implications.

This action follows Standard & Poor's Oct. 3, 2008, placement of American International Group Inc. (AIG) on CreditWatch with negative implications.

All affected bond issues receive partial support in the form of guaranteed investment contracts (GICs) from American International Group, AIG Matched Funding Corp., or AIG Financial Products Corp. A complete listing of the affected bonds is shown.

For a complete listing of the affected bonds, please contact Edward Sweeney, New York, (1) 212-438-6634,

Analyst Contacts:
Renee J Berson, New York (1) 212-438-7966
Valerie White, New York (1) 212-438-2078