Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc has recorded a surprise quarterly loss as bookings took a hit from a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and renewed travel curbs.
Although occupancy rates have bounced back from April of 2020 lows thanks to a relative easing of lockdowns, emerging variants of COVID-19 have hindered a swift recovery for US hotel operators.
"Rising COVID-19 cases and tightening travel restrictions disrupted the positive momentum we saw throughout the summer and fall," Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said in a statement.
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Analysts expect a wider rollout of COVID-19 vaccines later this year to first aid a rebound in leisure travel, leaving hotel chains such as Hilton that rely more on business travel struggling for longer.
Hilton said that its fourth quarter revenue per available room (RevPAR) - a key measure for a hotel's top-line performance - fell by approximately 59% to $40.68, and was below the company's expectation of approximately $45 per room.
Net loss attributable to Hilton stockholders was $224 million, or 80 cents per share, in the quarter that ended on December 31, 2020, compared with net income of $175 million, or 61 cents per share, a year earlier.
On an adjusted basis, Hilton lost 10 cents per share, missing analysts' estimates for a profit of three cents per share, according to Refinitiv data.
Revenue plunged by 62% to $890 million, which was below Wall Street's estimate of $1.03 billion.