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PHILADELPHIA-Hersha Hospitality Trust’s operating income rose 75% in the fourth quarter of 2007, reaching $11.9 million, compared with $6.8 million for the same quarter of 2006. Operating revenues rose 52.9% to $57.5 million, up from $37.6 million in the parallel quarter of the previous year.

Calling the company’s 2007 growth “very strong” during a conference call, Jay Shah, CEO, said “significant internal growth from both our stabilized and newer hotels contributed to our 16.1% revenue increase per available room.” He also said RevPAR growth in the Hersha properties in the metro areas of New York City, Boston and Washington, DC rose 28.4%, 20.6% and 18.6%, respectively. That compared with overall industry estimates of 13.5%, 18.6%, and 7.4%, respectively for those same markets, he noted.

Just seven hotels were added to the Hersha portfolio in 2007, compared with 44 additions during the previous two years. “We purposely shifted our primary focus to internal growth and asset management in order to drive our portfolio RevPAR and hotel profitability,” he said, adding that would be a “continuing priority in the years ahead.”

During a Q and A session with Wall Street analysts, Shah acknowledged “many uncertain factors in the coming year.” The company’s 2008 guidance calls for consolidated same-store RevPAR growth of between 4% and 5%.

Neil Shah, president and COO, said Hersha is looking carefully at projections for new supply in its markets. He sees 3% or less new supply in the New York City/Manhattan market in 2008; 4% new supply in the Boston Market, primarily in the luxury segment, and little new supply in the Philadelphia market this year, followed by one new hotel in 2009 and another in 2010.

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