2014

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Honeywell International, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group and Choice Hotels International

CHICAGO, April 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 Honeywell International Inc (NYSE: HON), Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: HOT), Marriott International Inc. (NYSE: MAR) InterContinental Hotels Group (NYSE: IHG) and Choice Hotels International Inc. (NYSE: CHH).

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Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Honeywell Seeks More Fuel Efficiency

Honeywell International Inc (NYSE: HON) recently announced its intention to offer more turbocharged diesel powered vehicles to the US customers. Turbocharged vehicles are more fuel efficient than gasoline vehicles. With the recent surge in fuel prices, auto manufacturers are focused on building cars that are more fuel efficient and appealing to its customers. Turbochargers enable manufacturers to shrink engine size and weight while maintaining driving experience. 2014 Versions of Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ram 1500, Chevrolet Cruze and Mazda 6 are some of the vehicles benefiting from Honeywell turbochargers.

The turbo technology is well suited to meet the needs of the car segment in emerging markets. As per the recent industry projections, sales of passenger cars with turbocharged diesel engines are expected to witness a growth of 22% in the next five years. Sale of clean diesel passenger cars in North America was up more than 25% in 2012 and has been continuously increasing since then. Honeywell possesses the best R&D turbo resources, the widest product portfolio of any turbo supplier and an experienced engineering network. Consequently, Honeywell expects turbo diesel growth of 3% to 4 % by 2018.

In Europe, turbo charged vehicles are already in great demand. With turbocharged gasoline engines and turbo diesel engines representing 75% of the vehicles in Europe, Honeywell continues to maintain its position as the global turbo leader with 100 new turbo launches annually and around 500 applications in its production pipeline.

Starwood to Revamp Middle East, Africa Properties

As part of its continued brand revitalization strategy, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (NYSE: HOT) plans to revamp its 13 Le Meridien hotels in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) regions. The refurbishment will cost approximately $200 million and will be completed in three years.

Acquired in Nov 2005, the French brand – Le Meridien rides on a high growth vehicle and already has a global presence with nearly 100 hotels in more than 40 countries. Well known for its upscale hospitality, management sees the brand as a lucrative addition to its luxury hotels. The brand has considerable presence in emerging Middle Eastern and African markets for more than 30 years.

Apart from renovations, Le Meridien will include another property to its already four-propertied portfolio in Egypt. This new hotel – Le Meridien Cairo Airport – is slated to open in Sep 2013. The emergence of the MEA region as an international business hub as well as leisure travel destination encourages Starwood to focus on this region.

Hotel companies across the globe have been diligently working on their properties over the last couple of years to augment guest satisfaction to raise their positions in a cutthroat environment. Hence, brand conversion and remodeling has become a trend today.

Many of Starwood's peers like Marriott International Inc. (NYSE: MAR) and InterContinental Hotels Group (NYSE: IHG) are also resorting to the renovation strategy. Though renovation work affects near-term revenues, it boosts returns once completed.

Starwood is comprehensively working on its assets to offer an enhanced travel experience to its guests and is primarily considering renovation of older properties operating in dynamic markets.

Starwood currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Choice Hotels International Inc. (NYSE: CHH) looks attractive at current levels with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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