Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Hilton Worldwide Holdings, the world's largest hotel operator, announced Wednesday that it would be priced at $20 per share in its initial public offering. And Thursday, shares soared 7.5 percent to $21.50 in its stock market debut.
This is the largest ever IPO for a hotel company. Hilton owns more than 4,000 properties worldwide, and its success is an abrupt turnaround from its performance leading into the recession, when private-equity firm Blackstone Group bought the company for $26 billion in 2007. Blackstone didn't sell any shares in the IPO, but Hilton sold 117.6 million shares to raise $2.35 billion.
For the first nine months of 2013, revenues rose 1.7 percent to $2.98 billion and profits spiked 24 percent to $389 million from the prior year.
The Virginia-based company owns a number of brands, including Waldorf Astoria, DoubleTree and Hampton Inn. It also looks to expand its upscale offerings as pricing power increases, but analysts say consumers won't see much of a difference, besides updated rooms and renovated hallways.
Hilton is poised to be the second largest IPO of the year, and an Ernst and Young report says that the 2013 IPO market has been its hottest since 2004. Hilton has been lauded for capitalizing on a booming stock market and rebounding commercial real estate.
Shares trade under the ticker "HLT" on the New York Stock Exchange. Marriot stocks barely budged Thursday, but Starwood and Hyatt shares also both inched upward.