06/12/2014 | By Mitch Irzinski
Richard Smith, president and CEO of FelCor Lodging Trust (NYSE: FCH), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview during REITWeek 2014: NAREIT’s Investor Forum, held in New York.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of hotel REIT FelCor being listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Smith discussed the importance of this milestone.
“We’re very proud of the heritage and culture built at the company,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of changes recently, and we are pretty much complete with the transformation of the company—so the future looks really good, and we’re looking forward to the next 20 years.”
Smith was asked to describe a transformative moment in the past 20 years that has shaped how the company is performing.
“We were in a position where we had, from an investor perspective, an issue with the overall quality of the portfolio,” he said. “The moves that we have made—changing everything from an operational standpoint, from a capital deployment standpoint, from a strategic and tactical standpoint as it related to the portfolio—led us to selling a lot, adding some and really cleaning up the portfolio from an overall quality standpoint.”
FelCor reported very strong earnings in the first quarter. Smith shared his opinion with regard to the best opportunities for the remainder of the year.
“Opportunity wise, pretty much all markets are hot right now,” he said. “We did have strong earnings. We beat estimates and raised our guidance after the first quarter. The first two months of the second quarter look very good, so we see good trends continuing to develop. The primary thing that’s driving that is the re-emergence of group business. Across the board, group sales have been picking up more than had been anticipated. That’s creating more compression, which gives GM’s the opportunity to take advantage of that with regard to how they mix their customer base, and also on absolute rates.”