Friday, June 20, 2014

Vacancy Sign Flashing

Here is a Bloomberg article on recent transactions in the hotel sector.  It has been an active sector.  I missed the NorthStar (NRF) news last month that entered into a nearly $1 billion joint venture with Chatham Lodging for forty-seven limited service hotels.  The article lists so many transactions it does not even get into some of the back stories, like how American Realty Capital Hospitality Trust, which is in the early stage of its equity raise, is financing the 126 hotels it is buying from affiliates of Goldman Sachs for $1.93 billion. 

I would point out couple of additions to the article.  First, the terms "limited service" and "select service" seem blurred, but are two distinct categories.  Most of the transactions listed in the article have happened in the limited service category, which include brands like Courtyard, Homewood Suites, and Hampton Inns.  Select service is a lower amenity property and includes brands like Days Inns and Super 8.  Management, marketing, pricing and valuations are different for limited service and select service hotels.

Second, the article points out that:
The U.S. hotel industry has recovered since the financial and real estate market meltdown. Room rates in the first five months of this year hit a record, according to Jan Freitag, senior vice president at research firm STR Inc. This year through May, the average price for a hotel stay nationwide jumped to $113.58 a night, up 4.1 percent from a year earlier, according to Hendersonville, Tennessee-based STR.

And, it notes that the volume of deals (again confusion with the term "select service") in 2013 was the most since 2006.  The article does not mention the impact of new hotel supply.  I believe it was much higher in 2006 than current levels.  This means, in part, that an economically sensitive sector will not have the addition of new supply to contend with, which pressures rates and occupancies, when the economy slows.  Of course, high trading values for hotel properties, strong occupancies and increasing room rates is going to attract hotel developers.

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