Marriott posts surprise profit

Marriott International surprised Wall Street Friday by swinging to a profit from a loss in the previous quarter. The owner of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton brands earned $100 million in the last three months.

The world’s largest hotel chain is benefiting from a rebound in leisure travel as curbs from the health crisis are eased. Travel within countries has risen, boosting occupancy rates for hotel chains. Marriott’s quarterly occupancy rates in its biggest market, North America, nearly doubled to 37% from the previous quarter. Those rates also surged in Greater China, its best performing market. Marriott said 94% of its hotels around the world are now open.

Also helping the company return to the black: a 57% drop in expenses.

Marriott’s top line slumped but topped analysts' estimates.

Shares rose in early trading Friday, but they’re still down by roughly a third this year.

Marriott’s got company. Earlier this week, its smaller rival, Hilton Worldwide, also said demand had gradually improved.