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Investors see dark clouds of “global financial distress” weighing on the otherwise strong fundamentals fueling the growth of the lodging industry. While this sentiment has been driving down stock prices, there are plenty of earnings reports coming out this month that show upbeat forecasts. So despite the fact that hotel stocks fell more than 22 percent in 2015 and are down another 13 percent this year, the outlook remains decidedly mixed. Lodging REITs took the brunt of investor disdain last year and are receiving mixed outlooks from analysts for this year. Bloomberg looks at the dynamic that’s driving hedge funds managers away from REITs. To read more, click here.

With the Marriott-Starwood merger looming, investors eagerly awaited fourth quarter 2015 results for both companies. Marriott International last night reported a slightly smaller-than-expected increase in revenue for its fourth quarter, while occupancy and daily average rates improved, according to MarketWatch. Fourth quarter 2015 net income totaled $202 million or 77 cents a share, a 3 percent increase over Q4 2014. Revenues rose to $3.7 billion, and worldwide comparable revenue per available room increased 3.8 percent on a constant dollar basis. Meanwhile, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide today reported a dip in fourth-quarter profit on lower revenue but still surpassed Wall Street expectations, the Associated Press reports. Income from continuing operations fell to $166 million from $245 million in the same quarter a year ago. Earnings, excluding special items, came to 89 cents per share. Worldwide RevPAR increased 2.8 percent in constant dollars compared to 2014, but decreased 1.1 percent in actual dollars. Marriott and Starwood will hold their separate stockholder meetings to approve the combination transactions on March 28. The companies expect to close the $12.2 billion deal in mid-2016. Read more here.

New Orleans-based real estate developer HRI Properties has made major changes to its executive leadership team. The company has changed the roles of its owners, appointing co-founder Pres Kabacoff chairman of the board and current president Tom Leonhard as both president and chief executive officer. Eddie Boettner continues to serve as chief administrative officer.

Here is a look at more notable comings and goings that have taken place this week:

Hyatt Hotels Corporation has appointed Patrick J. Grismer chief financial officer of the Chicago property. Grismer will oversee all aspects of the finance function while serving as a business partner in achieving the company’s strategic growth initiatives.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts has announced management changes at Heidel House Resort & Spa and Timber Ridge Lodge. Kevin Karau will assume the role of general manager at Heidel House in Green Lake, Wis., and Mark Fenton will assume the general manager role at Timber Ridge in Lake Geneva, Wis.

Sam Trotter has been selected as corporate brand strategist of Charlestowne Hotels. With an extensive knowledge of hotel operations, management, real estate, and e-commerce, Trotter will be responsible for brand strategy throughout Charlestowne’s portfolio of hotels.

Sbe Hotel Group has announced the appointment of Paul Sposare as area director of sales and marketing for The Redbury New York and SLS Park Avenue. With over 20 years of luxury hotel experience, Sposare will provide strategic leadership for Sbe Hotel Group’s hotels, overseeing all of the marketing and sales efforts for the two new hotel locations in 2016.

Andrew Tilley has been named general manager of Meliá Hotels International’s first New York property, Innside New York NoMad. Tilley has more than 30 years of experience as an international hotelier, working exclusively with Meliá Hotels International since 2010.

Hospitality veteran Barry Rodriguez has been appointed director of sales and marketing for Loews New Orleans Hotel. Rodriguez has 13 years of hotel sales experience with luxury destinations throughout New Orleans, and most recently served as director of sales at the Ritz Carlton New Orleans.

HHM announced the appointment of Joseph Klam as executive vice president of financial services and a member of the hotel management company’s executive leadership team. The 40-year hospitality veteran will support HHM’s finance and accounting platform during a period of rapid growth in the company’s management of full service, independent, and resort properties.

Chuck Moses has been selected as director of sales and marketing for Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, Texas. Moses will be responsible for planning and implementing sales, marketing and product development programs targeted towards existing and new markets.

Hotel owners and investors will likely face a more challenging environment for financing debt as 2016 goes on, with lenders responding to increased risk in debt capital markets as well as new regulations. No where is this more apparent than in the commercial mortgage backed securities space where the current sell off of CMBS loans is the longest on record. Wall Street firms are readying themselves for a new regulation that kicks in at the end of 2016 forcing banks to keep a stake in the CRE loans that they package into securities. The new requirement, dubbed risk retention, applies to all types of securitization, the process by which debt is pooled together and sliced into bonds of varying risk and reward. The end result of this new risk retention requirement might be lenders that become more selective about CRE loans as the year progresses, as fewer loans get packaged for securitization. This could make it harder for property owners to refinance just as a wave of loans made during the peak of the last cycle come due this year and next. Read more here.

In December, Expedia presented a demo of its new Accelerator program, a tool that gives hoteliers a different avenue by which they can move their listings up in Expedia’s search results (something that can already be done with advertising dollars). AH&LA is wary of the new program, commenting that it will jeopardize consumer choice in the hotel booking process. “Clearly this is a pay to play program that fixes results consumers see so that they are none the wiser,” said Maryam Cope, AH&LA’s VP of government affairs. To read more, click here.

The U.S. market for mobile point-of-sale payments will increase to $23 billion this year–up more than 50 percent from 2015. According to market research publisher Packaged Facts, mobile payments are expected to rise dramaticaly through 2019 due to a continued increase in smartphone use. To read more, click here.

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