Orange County Business Journal

Sunstone Hotel Misses Q1 Expectations

Kari Hamanaka Thursday, May 5, 2011

Aliso Viejo-based hotel owner Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc. missed Wall Street’s expectations for the first quarter as it issued full-year profit guidance in line with estimates.

Sunstone reported funds from operations, a profit measure for hotels and other real estate owners, of $8.3 million, up more than 100% from a year earlier.

Analysts on average expected funds from operations of $13 million.

Revenue for the first quarter was up 15.4% from a year earlier to $162.6 million.

Wall Street had forecasted revenue of $174.9 million for the quarter.

Sunstone owns 33 hotels, including the Fairmont Newport Beach and Hyatt Regency Newport Beach.

The company’s revenue per available room, an industry measure of sales from available guest rooms, was up 7.6% from a year earlier to $110.21.

Sunstone didn’t provide guidance for the second quarter but did forecast full-year revenue per available room to increase 6% to 8% this year.

The company said it expects funds from operations to be $92 million to $103 million for the year, in line with Wall Street’s forecast of $100.7 million.

Sunstone has shifted its investment strategy to high-end, brand name hotels after spending much of the past year handing back the keys to lenders on underperforming hotels.

The company struck a deal last month to buy the 1,190-room Hilton San Diego Bayfront for $475 million.

At the same time, Sunstone said it was selling the 409-room Royal Palm Miami Beach for $130 million.

Both deals are expected to close some time this quarter.

Sunstone said it hired Robert Springer, a former executive at New York-based Goldman, Sachs & Co., to senior vice president of acquisitions. He is expected to join the company by the end of the month.

Springer formerly served as vice president of the merchant banking division at Goldman Sachs handling the firm's hotel investments.