Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HLT) Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

Feb 13, 2019 • 10:00 am ET

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Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. (NYSE:HLT) Q4 2018 Earnings Conference Call Transcript

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Presentation
Operator
Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Hilton Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2018 Earnings Conference Call. All participants will be in listen-only mode. (Operator Instructions) After today's presentation, there will be an opportunity to ask questions. (Operator Instructions) Please note, this event is being recorded.

At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Jill Slattery, Vice President and Head of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, ma'am.

Executive
Jill Slattery

Thank you, Denise. Welcome to Hilton's Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2018 Earnings Call.

Before we begin, we would like to remind you that our discussions this morning will include forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements, and forward-looking statements made today speak only to our expectations as of today.

We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise these statements. For a discussion of some of the factors that could cause actual results to differ, please see the Risk Factors section of our most recently filed Form 10-K.

In addition, we will refer to certain non-GAAP measures on this call. You can find reconciliations of non-GAAP to GAAP financial measures discussed in today's call in our earnings press release and on our website at ir.hilton.com.

This morning, Chris Nassetta, our President and Chief Executive Officer will provide an overview of the current operating environment and the company's outlook. Kevin Jacobs, our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, will then review our fourth quarter and full year results and provide an update on our expectations for the year. Following their remarks, we'll be happy to take your questions.

With that, I'm pleased to turn the call over to Chris.

Executive
Christopher J. Nassetta

Thank you, Jill, and good morning, everyone. We appreciate you joining us today. We're happy to report a good finish to what was a great year for Hilton. In the fourth quarter, adjusted EBITDA and EPS once again exceeded our expectations. We continued to prove the resiliency of our business model as net unit growth exceeded our expectations and drove the majority of our bottom line and free cash flow growth.

We also continued to demonstrate the power of our network effect by increasing our industry-leading market share premiums 100 basis points for the full year, with all regions gaining share. Exceptional experiences for our guests drive better profits for our owners, generating higher returns for our shareholders. Speaking of returns for the full year, we returned $1.9 billion to shareholders in the form of buybacks and dividends, representing approximately 9% of our market cap.

Turning to results. Our system-wide RevPAR grew 3% for the year. Group business performed well throughout the year with RevPAR growth of 4%, slightly exceeding our expectations, given particular strength and convention business across a number of key markets.

Corporate transient trends were healthy, with RevPAR up 2.6% for the year, with some softness experienced in the fourth quarter. Leisure transient continued to grow, also up 2.6% for the year, but fell shy of our expectations,