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Tickers in this Article: HOT, MAR, IHG, H
Leading hospitality company Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (HOT) recently declared that amid such global macroeconomic turmoil, it has entered into maximum number of hotel agreements in 2012. At the end of 2012, the company inked nearly 125 new hotel management and franchise deals, which reflect an increase of 13% year over year. Of its total pipeline, 20% of hotel deals are consistent with the company's brand conversion strategy.

Earlier, the company projected to unveil 71 new hotels with nearly 18,500 guestrooms located across 20 countries by the end of 2012.

The company will be able to beef up its portfolio with these new deals and hotels, especially in the emerging markets. In 2012, the company entered into the maximum number of hotel deals in the developing markets. In order to ramp up its presence in the flourishing Chinese market, Starwood Hotels is set to introduce its 125th hotel in the country in 2013.

Moreover, in a concerted endeavor to strengthen its full-service, luxury/upscale brands portfolio the company opened various significant properties in 2012. The company has unveiled new hotels such as Blue Mountains in Australia, Metropole Palace in Serbia and Twelve at Hengshan in Shanghai under its luxury brand St. Regis. The company's W brand also had a strong year with its debut in Paris, Bangkok and Singapore.

Besides, the company's upscale brand Sheraton, Westin and Le Méridien also witnessed the opening of various new properties including The Westin New York Grand Central in Manhattan, Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central, The Westin Lake Las Vegas, Le Méridien Arlington, The Westin Snowmass Resort, Sheraton Vitoria in Brazil and Le Méridien Mexico City in Mexico.

The company's mid-market brands, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft and Element also grew in 2012. Starwood introduced highest number of hotels under its Four Points by Sheraton brand in 2012. In addition, Aloft made its debut in Zhengzhou Zhengdong in China and San Jose in Costa Rica. The company also launched its Element brand in South Florida with the opening of its first hotel in Miami International Airport.

Starwood Hotels competes with major hoteliers like InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Hyatt Hotels Corporation H) and Marriott International Inc. (MAR).

Starwood currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank (a short-term 'Hold' rating).

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