China Lodging Group, Limited Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2017 Financial Results

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SHANGHAI, China, March 13, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- China Lodging Group, Limited (NASDAQ:HTHT) (“China Lodging Group”, “Huazhu” or the “Company”), a leading and fast-growing multi-brand hotel group in China, today announced its unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2017.

“We are pleased to have finished 2017 with strong fourth quarter operating results and expecting another solid year in 2018. Thanks to successful product upgrade, brand mix up-shift, and improved operational environment, we achieved 14.4% increase year-over-year in group blended RevPAR. On the front of hotel development, in 2017, we opened more than three hotels every two days. Our hotel room inventory grew by 20% on a gross basis, or 15% net,” commented Ms. Jenny Zhang, Chief Executive Officer of China Lodging Group.

“Our consistent track record of strong hotel openings and pipeline growth demonstrates robust demand for our brands. In 2017, we continued to strengthen our economy brands by rolling out new models and launch a few of midscale brands such as HanTing Premium, CitiGo and urban Manxin. Our refreshed models have received positive market feedback from guests and franchisees.  Additionally, we have enriched our midscale brand portfolio by acquiring Crystal Orange and successfully integrated the Crystal Orange hotels into our network, which is expected to accelerate our growth and enhance our profitability in 2018. I’m also proud to announce that we have achieved a milestone of having over 100 million members in our loyalty program,” said Ms. Zhang. “Going forward, we will maintain our asset-light growth strategy and continue to invest in our brands and to improve our operational efficiency. We expect operational environment to continue its positive momentum and remain optimistic about outlook in 2018.”

Note: Value-added tax ("VAT") has been implemented for hospitality industry to replace business tax in China, effective May 1, 2016. For comparison purpose, the business tax and related surcharges in full year of 2016 is reallocated to reflect net revenues for each business.

Net revenues for the full year of 2017 were RMB8,170.2 million (US$1,255.7 million), representing an increase of 25.0% from the full year of 2016.

For the full year of 2017, net revenues from leased and owned hotels were RMB6,343.3 million (US$974.9 million), representing a 23.9% year-over-year increase.

For the full year of 2017, net revenues from manachised and franchised hotels were RMB 1,786.7 million (US$274.6 million), representing a 28.9% year-over-year increase. It accounts for 21.9% of net revenues, compared to 21.2% of net revenues for the full year of 2016.

For the full year of 2017, other revenues were RMB40.3 million (US$6.2 million).

For the full year of 2017, hotel operating costs were RMB5,674.2 million (US$872.1 million), compared to RMB4,932.2 million in 2016. Excluding share-based compensation, hotel operating costs (non-GAAP) were RMB5,654.4 million (US$869.1 million), representing 69.2% of net revenues, compared to 75.2% in 2016.

For the full year of 2017, selling and marketing expenses were RMB215.0 million (US$33.0 million), compared to RMB146.5 million in 2016. Selling and marketing expenses excluding share-based compensation expenses (non-GAAP) were RMB213.4 million (US$32.8 million), representing 2.6% of net revenues, compared to 2.2% in 2016. The increase was mainly due to redesign of a number of our hotel brands as well as marketing activities to promote our brands and loyalty programs.

For the full year of 2017, general and administrative expenses were RMB691.0 million (US$106.2 million), compared to RMB492.1 million in 2016. General and administrative expenses excluding share-based compensation expenses (non-GAAP) were RMB645.9 million (US$99.3 million), representing 7.9% of net revenues, compared to 6.9% in 2016. The increase was mainly attributable to the increase of performance-related personnel costs, general and administrative expenses related to the newly acquired Crystal Orange operations, and one-off Crystal Orange acquisition transaction costs amounting to RMB45.2 million in the first half of 2017.

Pre-opening expenses for the full year of 2017 were RMB206.5 million (US$31.7 million), compared to RMB71.8 million in 2016, representing a year-over-year increase of 187.4%. The increase in pre-opening expenses was mainly attributable to more leased mid-and-upscale hotels opened or under construction in 2017 than in 2016. The pre-opening expenses as a percentage of net revenues increased to 2.5% in 2017 from 1.1% in 2016.

Income from operations for the full year of 2017 was RMB1,437.5 million (US$220.9 million), compared to RMB870.9 million in 2016. Excluding share-based compensation expenses, adjusted income from operations (non-GAAP) for the full year of 2017 was RMB1,503.9 million (US$231.1 million), compared to RMB926.3 million for the full year of 2016. The adjusted operating margin (non-GAAP) for the year of 2017 was 18.4%, compared with 14.1% for the full year of 2016. The improvement of 4.3-percentage-points in the adjusted operating margin was mainly attributable to the higher blended RevPAR and the increased portion of manachised-and-franchised hotels in 2017.

Net income attributable to China Lodging Group, Limited for the full year of 2017 was RMB1,237.2 million (US$190.2 million), as 15.1% of net revenues, compared to RMB804.6 million, as 12.3% of net revenues in 2016. Excluding share-based compensation expenses, adjusted net income attributable to China Lodging Group (non-GAAP) for the full year of 2017 was RMB1,303.6 million (US$200.4 million), compared to RMB860.1 million in 2016. The year-over-year increase of 51.6% was mainly attributable to the expanded hotel network, improved blended RevPAR and the acquisition of Crystal Orange in 2017.

For the full year of 2017, basic earnings per share were RMB4.43 (US$0.68) and diluted earnings per share were RMB4.24 (US$0.65); basic earnings per ADS were RMB17.72 (US$2.72), while diluted earnings per ADS were RMB16.95 (US$2.60). For the full year of 2017, excluding share-based compensation expenses, adjusted basic earnings per share (non-GAAP) were RMB4.67 (US$0.72), while adjusted diluted earnings per share (non-GAAP) were RMB4.46 (US$0.69), and adjusted basic earnings per ADS (non-GAAP) were RMB18.67 (US$2.87), while adjusted diluted earnings per ADS (non-GAAP) were RMB17.85 (US$2.74).

EBITDA (non-GAAP) for the full year of 2017 was RMB2,361.1 million (US$362.9 million), compared to RMB1,730.3 million in 2016. Excluding share-based compensation expenses, adjusted EBITDA (non-GAAP) for the full year of 2017 was RMB2,427.5 million (US$373.1 million), compared with RMB1,785.8 million in 2016, representing a 35.9% year-over-year increase. The year-over-year increase was mainly due to the expansion of the Company’s hotel network, the improved RevPAR and the acquisition of Crystal Orange in 2017. The adjusted EBITDA margin (non-GAAP) for the year of 2017 was 29.7%, compared with 27.3% for the full year of 2016.

Operating cash inflow for the full year of 2017 was RMB2,452.6 million (US$377.0 million), representing an increase of 18.7% from 2016. The significant growth was mainly due to the Company’s fast network expansion with manachise and franchise models. Investing cash outflow for the full year of 2017 was RMB6,716.3 million (US$1,032.3 million), compared to investing cash inflow of RMB183.8 million in 2016. The fluctuation was mainly attributable to cash paid for business acquisitions such as Crystal Orange, the purchase of long-term investments, and increase in restricted cash.

The Company anticipates the gross opening of 650-700 hotels in 2018, 60%-65% of which are midscale and upscale hotels.

The above forecast reflects the Company’s current and preliminary view, which is subject to change.

A recording of the conference call will be available after the conclusion of the conference call through March 20, 2018. Please dial +1 (855) 452 5696 (for callers in the US) or +61 2 9003 4211 (for callers outside the US) and entering pass code 7095016.

The conference call will also be webcast live over the Internet and can be accessed by all interested parties at the Company’s Web site, http://ir.huazhu.com .

The Company believes that EBITDA is a useful financial metric to assess the operating and financial performance before the impact of investing and financing transactions and income taxes, given the significant investments that the Company has made in leasehold improvements, depreciation and amortization expense that comprise a significant portion of the Company’s cost structure. In addition, the Company believes that EBITDA is widely used by other companies in the lodging industry and may be used by investors as a measure of financial performance. The Company believes that EBITDA will provide investors with a useful tool for comparability between periods because it eliminates depreciation and amortization expense attributable to capital expenditures. The Company also uses adjusted EBITDA, which is defined as EBITDA before share-based compensation expenses, to assess operating results of the hotels in operation. The Company believes that the exclusion of share-based compensation expenses helps facilitate year-on-year comparison of the results of operations as the share-based compensation expenses may not be indicative of Company operating performance. Therefore, the Company believes adjusted EBITDA more closely reflects the performance capability of hotels. The presentation of EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA should not be construed as an indication that the Company’s future results will be unaffected by other charges and gains considered to be outside the ordinary course of business.

The use of EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA has certain limitations. Depreciation and amortization expense for various long-term assets (including land use rights), income tax, interest expense and interest income have been and will be incurred and are not reflected in the presentation of EBITDA. Share-based compensation expenses have been and will be incurred and are not reflected in the presentation of adjusted EBITDA. Each of these items should also be considered in the overall evaluation of the results. The Company compensates for these limitations by providing the relevant disclosure of the depreciation and amortization, interest income, interest expense, income tax expense, share-based compensation expenses and other relevant items both in the reconciliations to the U.S. GAAP financial measures and in the consolidated financial statements, all of which should be considered when evaluating the performance of the Company.

The terms EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA are not defined under U.S. GAAP, and neither EBITDA nor adjusted EBITDA is a measure of net income, operating income, operating performance or liquidity presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP. When assessing the operating and financial performance, investors should not consider these data in isolation or as a substitute for the Company’s net income, operating income or any other operating performance measure that is calculated in accordance with U.S. GAAP. In addition, the Company’s EBITDA or adjusted EBITDA may not be comparable to EBITDA or adjusted EBITDA – or similarly titled measures utilized by other companies – since such other companies may not calculate EBITDA or adjusted EBITDA in the same manner as the Company does.

Reconciliations of the Company’s non-GAAP financial measures, including EBITDA and adjusted EBITDA, to the consolidated statement of operations information are included at the end of this press release.

For more information, please visit the Company’s website: http://ir.huazhu.com.The information in this release contains forward-looking statements which involve risks and uncertainties, including statements regarding the Company’s capital needs, business strategy and expectations. Any statements contained herein that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements, which may be identified by terminology such as “may,” “should,” “will,” “expect,” “plan,” “intend,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential,” “forecast,” “project,” or “continue,” the negative of such terms or other comparable terminology. Readers should not rely on forward-looking statements as predictions of future events or results. Any or all of the Company’s forward-looking statements may turn out to be wrong. They can be affected by inaccurate assumptions, risks and uncertainties and other factors which could cause actual events or results to be materially different from those expressed or implied in the forward-looking statements. In evaluating these statements, readers should consider various factors, including the anticipated growth strategies of the Company, the future results of operations and financial condition of the Company, the economic conditions of China, the regulatory environment in China, the Company’s ability to attract customers and leverage its brands, trends and competition in the lodging industry, the expected growth of the lodging market in China and other factors and risks outlined in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its annual report on Form 20-F and other filings. These factors may cause the Company’s actual results to differ materially from any forward-looking statement. In addition, new factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for the Company to predict all factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements. Any projections in this release are based on limited information currently available to the Company, which is subject to change. This release also contains statements or projections that are based upon information available to the public, as well as other information from sources which the Company believes to be reliable, but it is not guaranteed by the Company to be accurate, nor does the Company purport it to be complete. The Company disclaims any obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this document, except as required by applicable law.

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---Financial Tables and Operational Data Follow—

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3 In 2017, we adopted ASU No.2016-09, by using a retrospective transition method in the unaudited condensed consolidated statements of cash flows. Accordingly we reclassified Excess tax benefit from share-based compensation from financing activities to operating activities in the unaudited condensed consolidated statements of cash flows for the quarters ended December 31, 2016, September 30, 2017 and December 31, 2017, and the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Contact InformationInvestor RelationsTel: +86 (21) 6195 9561Email:

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Globe Newswire: 20:30 GMT Tuesday 13th March 2018

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