The Economy Got You Down? Get Out of Town
Brian is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
So, the U.S. economy had a teeny, tiny growth rate of 1.5 percent in the second quarter. The Conference Board's Kathy Bostjancic summed up the economy's performance this way: "U.S. economic growth has slowed to a crawl." She went on to cite "the anemic pace of consumption and investment," "weak exports," and "negative headwinds from Europe."
Other than those few minor issues, apparently all is well in the good old USA.
Her use of the term "crawl" perhaps was a disservice to all the babies out there. I would venture that only a very uncoordinated infant indeed couldn't motor along faster than our economy is going.
If you find yourself with a case of the summertime blues due to all this bad news, one surefire remedy is to get out of town for a while. A change of scenery can do us all good. Your mood might be further elevated by doing business with some of the travel and lodging companies that are reporting good news and earning accolades for their achievements.
Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways Group (NYSE: LCC) just reported record second quarter net profit, representing a 203 percent increase over the same quarter last year. They also boasted their best ever performance for on-time arrivals and for baggage handling. The company's CEO Doug Parker gave credit to "the collective efforts of our 32,000 employees." The company rewarded them with a collective $10 million in operational incentive payouts. Keep up that good work, baggage handlers. I'm willing to put up with the plane arriving a few minutes late if my baggage happens to arrive with me.
Watching the Olympics is always an inspiring experience, and we need all the inspiration we can get in these times. United Airlines, owned by United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL), is the official airline of Team USA. They have come up with this clever advertising slogan to show during the games: "Before They Move Us, We Move Them." Okay, our country can't produce very many jobs right now, but we can still come up with nifty slogans. That's an important talent for a mighty nation to have, right? In United's case, they also do a good job of getting you to your destination on time and happy. FORTUNE magazine rated United the world's most admired airline in 2012, in its list of the World's Most Admired Companies.
Now that you've chosen where you want to go and how to get there, to complete your ESCAPE THE HORRIBLE ECONOMIC NEWS GETAWAY, you have to pick a hotel. So many Choices...
Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH) has more than 6,200 franchise properties under brand names such as Comfort Inn, Clarion, and Rodeway Inn. The company recently announced that earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) went up a robust 14 percent in the quarter ending June 30 compared to the same quarter in 2011. Also impressive was the performance of their development team, which executed 106 new franchise agreements during the quarter, a 54 percent increase over last year's tally. The cheerful Choice CEO, Stephen P. Joyce, stated "People are traveling, we are driving record traffic to our hotels and the development environment is improving." Just listening to this guy cheers me up.
The term EBITDA always seemed clumsy to me, especially when you have to say it aloud during a presentation to senior management at your company. Is it pronounced eBITda, or ebitDA, or Ebitda? I'd just call it EBO, earnings before other stuff, and leave it at that.
Maybe what will really bolster your spirits is an upscale lodging experience, one where you can be treated like your portfolio is up 60 percent so far this year. You can't reach much higher than staying at one of the 79 Ritz-Carlton hotels around the globe. Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mariott International (NYSE: MAR). For the third year in a row, J.D. Power and Associates ranked Ritz-Carlton highest in the luxury brand segment in its North America Guest Satisfaction Index Study. Ritz-Carlton led every category in the survey and improved on its already high score from the previous year.
Being around success -- and successful enterprises -- can make you feel more successful. So as you plan your ROAD TRIP TO GET AWAY FROM WOE TRIP look for companies that are over-achievers and study what they are doing well that their competitors are not. You'll come back refreshed and invigorated.
At least until the unemployment figures come out.
PhoenixBrian has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.