- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2002

Host Marriott Corp., the largest hotel real estate investment trust, said declining business travel continued to escalate losses for the third quarter that ended Sept. 6.
The Bethesda company reported an earnings loss of $38 million (18 cents per share) compared with a loss of $7 million (6 cents) a year earlier.
The lack of corporate travel has forced hotels to increase occupancy rates through lower-paying tourists and convention goers, said Rod Petrick, a hotel industry analyst with Legg Mason Wood Walker.
"Most of Marriott's hotels aren't expecting to see high bookings until the fourth quarter," Mr. Petrick said. "Hopefully, we'll see a rise in the corporate earnings this quarter that will instigate an increase in corporate travel."
Revenue per available room, a measure of demand based on average room rate and occupancy, fell 8.9 percent at Host Marriott's properties.
For the year, revenue per room will decline 4 percent to 5 percent, the company said.
"Overall demand for lodging remains weak," said Christopher Nassetta in a conference call. "Our hardest hit hotels continue to be airport hotels."
Among other Washington-area companies reporting earnings yesterday:
Provident Bankshares Corp., the Baltimore parent company of Provident Bank, said profits rose 21 percent for the third quarter that ended Sept. 30 to $13.1 million (52 cents per diluted share) from $10.8 million (41 cents) a year earlier. Provident Bank has promoted Gary Geisel to chairman and chief executive officer because Peter Martin is retiring.
Mr. Geisel previously served as president and chief operating officer.
General Dynamics, the Falls Church defense contractor, reported a nearly 17 percent increase in earnings for the third quarter that ended Sept. 29 to $268 million ($1.32) from $230 million ($1.13) in the previous year.
Riggs National Corp., a D.C. banking company, posted income for the third quarter that ended Sept. 30 of $5.4 million (19 cents per diluted share) compared with a loss of $395,000 (1 cent) last year.

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