IHG Preliminary Results – Demand Trends Encouraging

Intercontinental Hotels Group (LON: IHG) will post its preliminary results for the 12 months to December 31, 2022, on Tuesday…

The hotel operator’s London-listed shares have performed positively so far this year, up over 16% as the ongoing recovery in the travel sector continues.

In its Q3 update in October, IHG revealed strong trading helped its group-wide RevPAR exceed pre-pandemic levels.

The company also said that the ongoing return of business and group travel had been building each quarter through the year. However, IHG, at the time, said there had been an impact on its China business due to restrictions.

But those restrictions have now significantly eased, which could have helped its performance during the quarter.

If you are a regular visitor to the site, you may know that we have been bullish on the travel sector recovery for a while — we were maybe too early.

And while we maintain that overall positive stance on the sector, based on the lack of data resources at our disposal for IHG, we have to remain on the fence…

But recently, airlines have revealed that they remain encouraged by travel demand, and there are some upbeat signs regarding IHG demand.

IHG Web Traffic – Source: Semrush

Traffic to the hotel operator’s website is on the rise again after a slide starting in November, while visits to one of its other sites, Crowne Plaza, are also surging.

Of course, IHG owns various brands, so those data points could be isolated, but they are encouraging.

Furthermore, Google Trends data shows searches for IHG are back on the rise, following a slight dip over the back end of 2022, while hotel data and analytics firm STR revealed that US occupancy is on the rise again, recently reaching a nine-week high.

Source: STR

Despite the positives, there have been several IHG downgrades by analysts in the last few weeks, mainly due to the recent share price rise.

Last week, UBS downgraded InterContinental to Neutral from Buy, raising the price target on the stock to 5,860p from 5,815p.

Analysts at UBS cited valuation for the downgrade following IHG’s recent rally, but they believe its estimates are “well underpinned.” Elsewhere, Stifel and Peel Hunt recently cut InterContinental to Hold, while Exan BNP Paribas downgraded the stock to Neutral.

Even so, out of 14 analysts, seven still have a Buy rating, while six have a Hold rating, and one has a Sell rating on the stock, according to TipRanks. The average price target is 5,838.57p.

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