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We make forward-looking statements in Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations and elsewhere in this report based on the beliefs and assumptions of our management and on information currently available to us. Forward-looking statements include information about our possible or assumed future results of operations which follow under the headings "Business and Overview," "Liquidity and Capital Resources," and other statements throughout this report preceded by, followed by or that include the words "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "intends," "plans," "estimates" or similar expressions.
Forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in these forward-looking statements, including the risks and uncertainties described below and other factors we describe from time to time in our periodic filings with the SEC. We therefore caution you not to rely unduly on any forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements in this report speak only as of the date of this report, and we undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.
RISKS AND UNCERTAINTIES
We are subject to various risks that could have a negative effect on the Company and its financial condition. You should understand that these risks could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in forward-looking statements contained in this report and in other Company communications. Because there is no way to determine in advance whether, or to what extent, any present uncertainty will ultimately impact our business, you should give equal weight to each of the following:
Lodging Industry Risks
The lodging industry is highly competitive, which may impact our ability to compete successfully with other hotel and timeshare properties for customers. We generally operate in markets that contain numerous competitors. Each of our hotel and timeshare brands competes with major hotel chains in national and international venues and with independent companies in regional markets. Our ability to remain competitive and to attract and retain business and leisure travelers depends on our success in distinguishing the quality, value, and efficiency of our lodging products and services from those offered by others. If we are unable to compete successfully in these areas, this could limit our operating margins, diminish our market share, and reduce our earnings.
We are subject to the range of operating risks common to the hotel, timeshare, and corporate apartment industries. The profitability of the hotels, vacation timeshare resorts, and corporate apartments that we operate or franchise may be adversely affected by a number of factors, including:
- the availability of and demand for hotel rooms, timeshare interval, fractional ownership and residential products, and apartments;
- international, national, and regional economic and geopolitical conditions;
- the impact of war, actual or threatened terrorist activity and heightened travel security measures instituted in response to war, terrorist activity or threats;
- the desirability of particular locations and changes in travel patterns;
- travelers' fears of exposure to contagious diseases, such as Avian Flu and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome ("SARS");
- the occurrence of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes;
- taxes and government regulations that influence or determine wages, prices, interest rates, construction procedures, and costs;
- the availability and cost of capital to allow us and potential hotel owners and joint venture partners to fund investments;
- regional and national development of competing properties;
- increases in wages and other labor costs, energy, healthcare, insurance, transportation and fuel, and other expenses central to the conduct of our business, including recent increases in energy costs; and
- organized labor activities, which could cause the diversion of business from hotels involved in labor negotiations, loss of group business, and/or increased labor costs.
Any one or more of these factors could limit or reduce the demand or the prices we are able to obtain for hotel rooms, timeshare units, residential units, and corporate apartments or could increase our costs and therefore reduce the profit of our lodging businesses. Reduced demand for hotels could also give rise to losses under loans, guarantees, and minority equity investments that we have made in connection with hotels that we manage. Even where such factors do not reduce demand, our profit margins may suffer if we are unable to fully recover increased operating costs from our customers.
The uncertain environment in the lodging industry will continue to impact our financial results and growth. Both the Company and the lodging industry were hurt by several events occurring over the last several years, including the global economic downturn, the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in September 2001, the global outbreak of SARS in 2003, and military action in Iraq. Although by 2007 both the lodging and travel industries had recovered from the depressed levels during those years, recent concerns over the possibility of an economic slowdown have left it unclear whether the recent growth environment will continue. Accordingly, our financial results and growth could be harmed if the industry recovery stalls or is reversed.
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