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September 20, 2012

Cornell Center for Hospitality Research Reports Examine Hotel's Carbon Footprints and Corporate Earnings Surprises

(Ithaca/New York, USA – September 20, 2012) A new report from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at the School of Hotel Administration focuses on how hotels report their carbon footprints. Many hotels have developed their own carbon reporting policies, but the global hotel industry has yet to agree on a standard. This new report helps frame the discussion by analyzing materiality, or the importance of specific greenhouse gas sources. Another new CHR report finds that hotel company stocks are relatively efficient in their response to announcements of earnings surprises.

In response to stakeholder and customer requests, hotel companies are developing mechanisms to communicate to guests their “carbon footprint,” or the quantifiable environmental impact of their operations. The industry is seeking common guidance on how calculations can be performed uniformly. A new report from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) supports this issue by analyzing the materiality of two carbon sources, fugitive coolant emissions and the use of fuels for hotel-owned vehicles. The report, “Determining Materiality in Hotel Carbon Footprinting: What Counts and What Does Not,” by Eric Ricaurte, is available at no charge from the CHR.

“Hotels look to utilize technical guidance from many external authorities as they determine and report their carbon footprints,” said Ricaurte, a sustainability consultant and CHR research associate. “But this guidance is complex and can be contradictory when applied to hotel operations. I studied the materiality, or significance, of hotel carbon emissions from coolant and mobile fuel based on data from 154 hotels in 25 countries. What I found is that neither source appears to be material for most hotels. That’s not quite the final word, because those factors may be material for an individual hotel under certain circumstances.”

The study seeks to fill technical research gaps identified through sustainability roundtables and the Hotel Carbon Measurement Initiative. Ricaurte’s report also discusses the current practices in corporate carbon reporting, including those developed by such hotel firms as Accor and InterContinental Hotels Group.

Cornell Study Documents Hospitality Stock Reactions to Earnings Surprises
—Despite Some Drift, Hospitality Stocks’ Pricing Is Relatively Efficient
A new study from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) finds that hospitality stocks are relatively efficient in reacting to earnings surprises. The study, “Earnings Announcements in the Hospitality Industry: Do You Hear What I Say?,” by Pamela C. Moulton and Di Wu, examined the effect of earnings surprises on hospitality stocks in particular (in contrast to previous studies that have examined all stocks together, irrespective of their industries). The report is available at no charge from the CHR website.

“When there’s a surprise in a company’s earnings announcement, a stock’s price will react quickly and then the price will continue drifting in the same direction. We noted that the stock prices for stocks in general tend to drift for up to 60 trading days, and so we wondered if the same was true for hospitality stocks,” said Moulton, an assistant professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. “Hospitality stock prices do drift, but only for about 20 trading days, so we view hospitality stocks as being more efficient than stocks in general.”

Moulton and Wu found that stock analysts are somewhat slow in revising their forecasts for future earnings in the hospitality sector, which may be one source of earnings surprises. Wu is a Ph.D. student in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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