Interesting to see how much more of a beating HOT is taking than MAR since their respective Q2 releases. The only real area of difference in their performance as I see it is in the timeshare segment. Contract sales (before deferred adjustment) are way down at HOT, in the order of 30% year to date. MAR, on the other hand, is actually ahead of last year for core product contract sales. MAR is also selling bundles of their just-announced project in Orlando, so this trend will only amplify in the next quarter. We all know that the analysts and the market always over-react to what's going on in this segment, so this may explain things.
Long-term I agree with Zack's that HOT has better brands and much more upside given the relative size of their pipeline. Their hotel operations are still not as consistently well executed as MAR's, though, including the shake-down period of new hotel openings. That continue's to be MAR's secret edge in my view.
Ultimately, however, the mid-term stock price of both of these great companies is entirely out of the hands of both managements. For now, it's all about the price of oil and whether the winner's of the election decides to tackle the eroding competitiveness of the U.S. as a place to invest and do business.