Shareholders can expect more growth than income from Marriott Corp. stock, company officers said at yesterday's annual meeting of the Bethesda-based restaurant and food services chain.
"We're a growth company and use all our funds to develop our company," said Chairman J. Willard Marriott.
And J. Willard Marriott Jr., the company's president, predicted continued growth and prosperity, although he noted some softness in the corporation's restaurant business. He also explained to shareholders why the company had set out to repurchase its own shares.
Noting that the corporation had repurchased about $13 million of its shares in the last year, the younger Marriott called it "the result of a carefully planned strategy based on the changing financial picture" of the company. The move was prompted by both a low stock price and "confidence in the future of our company," he said.
Marriott said that the corporation chose this option instead of increasing the cash dividend in part because the corporation can reinvest profits at a higher rate of return than what the shareholder would receive through dividends after taxes.
He also said that shareholder wealth had increased by 50 percent, or $6 a share, in the past 18 months.
Marriott directors declared the regular quarterly dividend of 5 cents a share payable July 18 to shareholders of record June 27.
Marriott directors fielded a variety of questions about management opportunities for women, employment of the handicapped and the decision to reinvest income rather than pay larger dividends.
Marriott said in answer to one question that 22 percent of all management positions in the corporation are held by women.