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Rising room rates helps Host Hotels in 1st qtr.

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) -- Host Hotels & Resorts posted a strong first-quarter performance on a sustained increase in room rates.

The lodging real estate investment trust switched to calendar quarterly earnings periods this year, rather than the independent fiscal reporting periods it had used before, but the company did top Wall Street expectations.

For the period ended March 31, Host funds from operations were $218 million, or 29 cents per share.

Removing certain items, FFO was 28 cents per share, which easily beat expectations for 23 cents per share, according to a poll of analysts by FactSet.

Funds from operations, or FFO, are considered key to measuring the financial performance of real estate investment trusts. FFO adds items such as amortization and depreciation back to net income.

The Bethesda, Md. company reported quarterly net income of $56 million, or 8 cents per share, and revenue of $1.26 billion.

Host said that its luxury and resort and conference center properties did well during the period. Average room rates increased 4 percent, while occupancy edged up slightly to 72.3 percent.

Revenue per available room at hotels open at least a year increased 5.1 percent. Revenue per available room, or revpar, is a key indicator of a lodging company's performance.

For the year, the company anticipates revpar at hotels open at least a year will rise 5 percent to 7 percent. It predicts earnings of about 31 cents to 39 cents per share and adjusted FFO between approximately $1.25 and $1.33 per share.

Analysts expect FFO of $1.25 per share.

Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. owns 103 properties in the U.S. and 15 properties internationally.