Hilton capitalizing on China’s growing middle-class

Hilton capitalizing on China’s growing middle-class

Quarterly earnings season tends to be a frenetic time as hundreds if not a few thousand companies report their results and update their outlooks. It tends to be a plethora of good, not so good and sometimes bad news as these are mashed up against investor expectations. Along the way, however, one can find a number of confirming data points, especially thematic ones as companies look to ride those demonstrative tailwinds to grow their business. Case in point below is Hilton Worldwide Holdings (HLT), which is benefitting from not only our Living the Life investment theme with its high-end Conrad and Waldorf businesses, but also our New Middle-Class theme, particularly in China, as well.

Here’s an excerpt of what Hilton President and CEO Chris Nassetta shared on the company’s recent quarterly earnings call:

We remain focused on building a presence everywhere in the world our guests want to travel. With more than half of our pipeline located outside the United States and 35 new countries represented, we have tremendous opportunities to grow our global footprint for the foreseeable future. Roughly 30% of our pipeline is located in Asia Pacific, a region that continues to benefit from powerful long-term secular trends supported by a growing middle class in China.

In the fourth quarter we celebrated the opening of our 50th Hampton by Hilton in China with an additional 200 in the pipeline. We also debuted our accessible lifestyle brand in the region with the opening of the Canopy by Hilton Chengdu City Center. With more than 75% of our pipeline in Asia Pacific under construction, we expect to open approximately 20,000 rooms in the region in 2019 and achieve roughly 20% net unit growth.

But more of the bulk is shifting to mid-market, and China for us right now that really is Hampton by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn. That stands the reason because what’s going on is growth in the middle class, they want to travel and that’s what they can afford.

Source: Hilton Worldwide Holdings (HLT) CEO Chris Nassetta on Q4 2018 Results – Earnings Call Transcript | Seeking Alpha

Apple making the iPhone even more connected

Apple making the iPhone even more connected

The iPhone is not only one of the most addictive devices around, something that is becoming even more so thanks to Fortnite, it is also one of the most connected. As tends to be the case, however, Apple will lag the overall market with features until a tipping point is at hand. It appears that Apple is signaling another such moment is near as it looks to unlock Near Field Communications (NFC) capabilities that have been inside the device since the iPhone 6.

Having recently stayed at a Hilton hotel and used the Hilton app’s digital key instead of those plastic/magnetic keycards that always seem to get wiped, I am rather excited for what this could mean. For the iPhone it has the potential to make an already sticky device even more so, while potenitally reducing the three things we must have when we go somewhere — wallet, keys, smartphone — down to two if not one.

Expect more on this to be had at Apple’s upcoming WWDC event that is just over a week away.

 

Citing sources familiar with the matter, The Information reports Apple will unlock the potential of near-field communication chips installed in millions of modern iPhones when it releases its next-generation “iOS 12” operating system. The change could also be applied to Apple Watch, which also features the secure communications technology. Since Apple’s first NFC-capable devices launched with iPhone 6 and 6s in 2014, the company’s implementation of NFC has been largely restricted to Apple Pay transactions.

The decision to wall off access to the chip was in part designed to protect iOS, and later watchOS, device users from unwarranted device access. With the new capabilities, however, iPhones will be able to unlock NFC-enabled doors and potentially transmit data to transit systems, personal authentication devices and more.

According to the publication, Apple employees are already using their iPhones to unlock doors at Apple Park, likely via custom badge readers detailed in Federal Communications Commission filings last year.

Source: Apple to unlock iPhone’s NFC chip capabilities in June, report says