Marriott International posted a third-quarter profit that surpassed analyst estimates on Thursday, but said the pricing environment in 2010 would remain difficult.

Excluding one-time items, Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott reported a profit of 15 cents per share. Analysts had expected 13 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The hotel industry has suffered from falling business demand since last fall. Hotels have pared both their costs and their rates to attract price-sensitive vacationers.

Marriott's systemwide revPAR, or revenue per available room, slumped 21.4 percent in the third quarter. Adjusted general, administrative and other expenses fell 14 percent from a year earlier.

Revenues fell 17 percent to $2.5 billion. Analysts had expected nearly $2.4 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company reported a third-quarter net loss attributable to Marriott of $466 million, or $1.31 per share, hurt by a charge linked to its timeshare unit and restructuring costs.

The hotelier earlier said it would shrink its timeshare segment, resulting in a $752 million pretax charge. Marriott will also see $9 million in restructuring costs before taxes.


Marriott, the first hotelier to report quarterly earnings this season, expects earnings per share from continuing operations attributable to Marriott shareholders to be between 20 cents and 23 cents. North American RevPAR could fall between 13 percent and 16 percent.

In 2010, Marriott expects worldwide systemwide RevPAR to be flat or down 5 percent. It also expects to see meaningful reductions in its debt levels.

Marriott plans to open 25,000 to 30,000 rooms in 2010 and most hotels expected to open are already under construction or undergoing conversion from other brands. Fee revenue in 2010 could be between $1.05 billion to $1.11 billion.

Shares fell 22 cents to $26.73 in premarket trading.

(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Derek Caney)