TRAVEL INDUSTRY

Marriott gains as hotels rebound

Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott International on Friday reported a surprise third-quarter profit, helped by cost cuts and a near doubling of occupancy rates in its North American hotels from the previous quarter as leisure travel rebounded on easing novel coronavirus curbs.

While international travel continues to be affected because of border restrictions in many countries, travel within nations has picked up and resulted in a recovery in occupancy rates for hotel chains.

Marriott, which owns the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton brands, said 94 percent of its hotels around the world had resumed operations.

Occupancy rates in North America, Marriott’s biggest market, rose to 37 percent in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, from 19.6 percent in the second quarter. The company said business and group travel were recovering more slowly.

Greater China was Marriott’s best-performing market in the reported quarter, as occupancy rates jumped to 61.4 percent from 35.5 percent in the second quarter.

Earlier this week, smaller rival Hilton Worldwide also said it had seen a gradual improvement in demand from a pandemic-induced slump after cost cuts helped the company post a surprise quarterly profit.

— Reuters

HEALTH INDUSTRY

Karen Lynch chosen as new head of CVS

CVS Health named Karen Lynch as its next chief executive, putting a seasoned insurance executive in place to succeed the health-care giant’s longtime leader Larry Merlo.

The shift in leadership reflects how CVS has further evolved under Merlo’s direction from a pharmacy chain into a health conglomerate that sells insurance coverage, administers drug-benefit plans, and offers care, including novel coronavirus testing. Lynch, 57, joined CVS in 2018 when it bought Aetna, where she was widely seen as a likely successor to CEO Mark Bertolini.

Lynch will become one of the most high-profile female executives in the business world, leading a company with a market value of more than $80 billion. Her appointment will be effective Feb. 1, 2021.

Merlo, 64, became CEO in 2011 and molded CVS into a health-industry bellwether. He joined the company in 1990 when it bought Peoples Drug, and worked his way up through the retail ranks to the top post. In his nine years at the helm, CVS has expanded its number of stores to 9,900, along the way acquiring Aetna in 2018 for $68 billion.

Like many health-care companies, CVS has been challenged by the coronavirus pandemic. However, some of those pressures have eased, and CVS boosted its outlook for the year on Friday after posting stronger-than-expected third-quarter earnings.

— Bloomberg News

Also in Business

Exercise bike maker Peloton Interactive on Thursday warned of near-term supply constraints, as demand for its at-home fitness equipment has shot up due to gym closures during the pandemic. The exercise bike maker's Connected Fitness revenue jumped 274 percent to $601.4 million in the quarter while its subscriptions climbed 137 percent to 1.33 million. The segment, Peloton's primary revenue generator, includes interactive fitness equipment with touch screens.

Insurer American International Group said on Friday it is considering an initial public offering or a private sale of nearly 20 percent of its life and retirement business to separate the unit from the rest of the company over the coming year. President Peter Zaffino said AIG had no plans to break up the life and retirement unit and sell it in pieces.

— From news services