Starwood profit beats estimates as N.America demand increases


April 24 (Reuters) - Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc's quarterly profit topped Wall Street estimates as growth in business travel in North America boosted both occupancy and room rates.

The company's net income from continuing operations fell 5 percent to $136 million, or 71 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $143 million, or 73 cents per share, a year earlier.

Starwood, whose brands include Sheraton and Westin, reported earnings of 63 cents per share excluding items, above the 56 cents analysts on average had expected.

Revenue fell 5.3 percent to $1.46 billion, but was marginally above analysts' average estimate of $1.45 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Mridhula Raghavan in Bangalore)

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