Marriott Corp. raised its cash dividend yesterday but the 33 percent increase - from 3 cents per share per quarter to 4 cents - was not enough to satisfy shareholders at the company's annual meeting.
Half a dozen shareholders pleaded for a bigger cash payout, drawing repeated applause from the 1,200 shareholders attending the session.
The size of the dividend, however, was the only thing Marriott shareholders had to complain about as executives reported a 30 percent increase in profits last year and said the growth rate accelerated to 46 percent in the lastest quarter.
Sharing the rostrum with his father, the company's founder and chairman, J. W. Marriott, president J. W. Marriott Jr. predicted the company's profits for calender year 1978 will exceed the 30 percent growth rate.
Marriott Corp. is switching fiscal years and earned the equivalent of $1.10 per share during calender 1977. Estimtes of 1978 earnings have been in the area of $1.40 and up.
Just before the annual meeting, Marriott announced it was increasing the annual dividend rate on its common stock from 12 cents (three cents quarterly) to 16 cents. Marriott began paying cash dividends only a year ago, wafter almost 20 years of stock dividends.
But the extra penny didn't satisfy a senior citizen who said he sold Marriott stock because he needed extra cash, or another shareholder who complained, "You talk for years about growing 15 or 20 percent, you grow and grow but we individuals can't wait 100 years to get dividends."
Replied the Marriott president: "We hope that we can increase the dividend," telling another questioner, the company has "been reinvesting the money and making the company grow, and hopefully the stock will grow with it."
Marriott said later, "We have never seen our stock as a high-yield, high-dividend stock; we have always looked at our company as a growth company."
He told another questioner the company is considering purchasing some of its own stock on the open market, an action not taken previously by Marriott.
In a lengthy report to shareholders and in response to questions, the Marriott chief executive made these points:
Marriott's hotel business - a key factor in improved earnings - will be expanded rapidly. Marriott has 40 hotels now, and "in the next 30 months, we will open 20 more." The Marriott hotel planned for Pennsyblvania Avenue and 14th Street, as apart of a complex to be built in partnership with Quadrangle Development Corp. and the Rouse Co. will be open in about 3 1/2 years.
Marriott's contract food services - the biggest supplier of airliner meals - "has been hurt by all the chaos" resulting from airline deregulation but is "starting to show major improvement." Delta Airlines recently started offering filet mignon on flights to Miami, and "our biggest customer, Eastern Airlines, will have to follow along that line." Marriott has signed up 10 new airline customers in the past two weeks as airlines added new routes because of deregulation.
Marriott's Washington-area cafeterias - a favorite eating place for the elderly - will not be closed and "are doing very well."
Roy Rogers will begin experimenting with salad bars in some restaurants and that fast food chain will be "aggressively expanding."
Plans for a Marriott amusement park in the Washington area have been "indefinitely postponed."