* Raises 2017 profit forecast
* Q1 adj. profit 38 cents/shr vs est 28 cents
* Shares rise as much as 3.8 pct (Adds details from conference call, shares)
By Radhika Rukmangadhan
May 2 (Reuters) - Hotel operator Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc on Tuesday reported a better-than-expected first-quarter profit and raised its earnings forecast for the year, helped by a boost in business travel following the U.S. presidential election.
Shares of the owner of the Waldorf Astoria hotel chain rose 3.3 percent to $61.27 in morning trading.
Hilton, like its hotel industry peers, is expected to benefit from an uptick in corporate demand, as companies spend more based on improved business sentiment following Donald Trump’s election as president in November.
U.S. business transient travel had been “quite anemic to flattish” before the election, but has since improved and stayed consistent, Hilton Chief Executive Christopher Nassetta said on a call with analysts on Tuesday.
Trump has pledged pro-business policies such as tax cuts and simpler regulations, promises that have powered Wall Street to record highs since his election.
Hilton’s bigger rival Marriott International Inc, which reports first-quarter results next week, said in February it felt more optimistic about 2017, and that it expects “modest levels of corporate transient demand” this year.
Hilton, the owner of the Conrad and Double Tree hotel chains, said it now expects 2017 earnings of $1.73-$1.81 per share, up from a prior forecast of $1.65-$1.75 per share.
More than three-quarters of Hilton’s first-quarter profit was wiped out, however, due to the spinoff of most of its real estate assets into a tax-efficient real estate investment trust and its timeshare business into a publicly traded company.
The spinoffs were completed in January.
Net income attributable to Hilton stockholders was $74 million, or 22 cents per share, in the quarter. The company’s net income in the year-ago quarter was $309 million, or 94 cents per share, reflecting $119 million from discontinued operations.
Excluding one-time items, Hilton earned 38 cents per share, beating analysts’ average expectation of 28 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue per available room (RevPAR) rose 3 percent in the quarter, helped mainly by higher occupancy, and was at the higher end of Hilton’s forecast for a 1-3 percent increase.
RevPAR, a key measure of hotel health, is calculated by multiplying a hotel’s average daily room rate by its occupancy rate.
Hilton’s revenue jumped 25.2 percent to $2.16 billion. Analysts on average had expected $2.06 billion.
Hilton’s shares had risen about 36 percent in the 12 months to Monday, including a 3.2 percent gain this year. (Reporting by Radhika Rukmangadhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)