Morgan Stanley weighed in on a few hotel names today. A couple of hours before the opening bell, the brokerage made the following changes:

  • Upgraded Marriott International (MAR) to overweight from equal weight

  • Downgraded Hospitality Properties (HPT) to underweight from equal weight

  • Downgraded Morgans Hotel Group (MHGC) to equal weight from overweight

    MAR, the only name to score an upgrade, is down a fraction today. HPT has given back 1.6% in the first 30 minutes of trading, and MHGC has dropped roughly 4.8%. MAR shares have been trending gradually higher since late 2002 but have endured a rocky 2007, slipping nearly 10% on a year-to-date basis. The stock is currently holding between its 10-month and 20-month moving averages. The latter of these 2 trendlines has contained all monthly closes in the stock since April 2003.

    Meanwhile, optimism and complacency remain the dominant emotions regarding MAR. On the analyst front, there are 10 strong buy ratings and 4 buys, along with just 4 holds and not a single sell. Options players are attempting to call a bottom in the stock, as suggested by the equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.73, lower than 95% of the past year's readings. Finally, short interest is weak, amounting to 2.2% of the equity's float and equal to a short-interest ratio of 1.4 days to cover.

    In other news from the world of lodging, David Weymer - an executive with Noble Investment Group - told reporters that hotel developers are feeling the strain of the credit crunch, as it has become more difficult to secure financing for new developments. He noted that ...hotel developers are faced with ... fewer lenders and lenders with more conservative underwriting parameters ... that could have some impact on the amount of deals getting done.