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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, JetBlue Airways, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and Ryanair Holdings

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – March 14, 2013 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (HOT), JetBlue Airways (JBLU), Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL), Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) and Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYAAY).

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Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Starwood Thriving in Latin America


Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (HOT) is on the verge of signing new deals and launching hotels in the rapidly-growing emerging markets of Latin America in order to further enhance its presence in the region. Starwood intends to increase its Latin American portfolio to 100 properties at the end of 2013

Starwood’s Latin American coverage comprises three brands - luxury brands (W Hotels, St. Regis and The Luxury Collection), upper-upscale segment (Westin, Le Méridien and Sheraton) and mid-market brands (Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton). At present, Starwood owns and operates 71 hotels across 13 countries in the region. Apart from this, 20 hotels are currently under construction. The company expects to unveil seven hotels in Latin America in 2013.

Flourishing Luxury Brand

This year Starwood is slated to introduce two Luxury Collection branded hotels in Cusco, Peru and Guadalajara, Mexico.

Apart from this, the company is also augmenting the presence of its W Hotels and St. Regis brand in Latin America. In this regard, Starwood has declared that it will unveil four new properties including W Bogota, W Santa Fe in Mexico City in 2014 and 2015, respectively, and W Retreat Kanai Rivera Maya as well as W Panama City both in 2016. Moreover, Starwood will also launch a St. Regis branded hotel, St. Regis Kanai Rivera Maya, in 2016.


Growing Opportunity in the Upper-Upscale Brand

In a concerted endeavor to strengthen its upper-upscale brand, Starwood is set to open four Sheraton branded properties in several places of Latin America in 2013 and 2014.

Starwood’s other upscale brands; Westin and Le Méridien are also witnessing high demand in the region. In 2013, the company is likely to operate 11 Westin branded hotels across five Latin American countries.

Strong Mid-Market Segment

Starwood’s Four Points by Sheraton is also expecting to extend its operations in Latin America with the inauguration of three Four Points by Sheraton hotels in Peru, Mexico and Bogota in 2013 and 2014. In addition, the other mid-market brand, Aloft is also scheduled to open six new properties in Latin America within 2015.


Starwood is continuously making serious efforts to enhance its international presence. Recently, the company has declared its plan to introduce 50 new hotels in the European region by 2018. Starwood has also undertaken several $200 million renovation initiatives to improve the efficacy of its existing hotels in Europe.


Positive February Traffic for JetBlue


JetBlue Airways (JBLU) reported single-digit traffic growth for Feb 2013 on the back of higher capacity. The company’s airline traffic – measured in revenue passenger miles or RPMs, which implies revenue generated per mile per passenger – increased 2.6% year over year to 2.51 billion for the month. Consolidated capacity (or available seat miles/ASMs) was 3.04 billion, up 1.3% from Feb 2012.

The load factor or percentage of seats filled by passengers was 82.4%, up 100 basis points. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (:PRASM), however, dropped 3% year over year. The company registered a completion factor of 96.1%, with on-time performance of 68.8%.

For the first two months of 2013, on a consolidated basis, JetBlue Airways generated RPMs of 5.30 billion (up 6.9% year over year) and ASMs of 6.46 billion (up 5.7% year over year), while load factor was 82.0%, reflecting an improvement of 90 basis points.

In an attempt to expand its services, JetBlue Airways is consistently introducing new flights. From Nov 20, the company will have two non-stop flights every day from Chicago's O'Hare to San Juan. Leveraging the reputation of being the largest carrier in Puerto Rico, the airline flies to 14 non-stop destinations within U.S. and Caribbean from the capital.


JetBlue Airways also remains committed toward re-vamping the city’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport and extend all necessary inputs for the growth and development of the island.

Going forward, JetBlue Airways aims to start services in Albuquerque, N.M.; Philadelphia; Penn and Medellin, Colombia. We believe adding on new routes enhances the company’s business model and strengthens its network against other group members such as Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) and Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV).

JetBlue Airways currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Other Stocks to Consider

A stock operating within the airline sector that is worth considering is Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYAAY) – that holds a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).


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