Starwood’s first-quarter net income declined 36 percent compared with last year when it booked some big asset sales, but it easily beat Wall Street expectations for profit and revenue.

The owner of Sheraton and St. Regis hotels earned $137 million, or 72 cents a share, for the period ended March 31. That compares with $213 million, or $1.09 a share, a year ago.

Removing tax benefits and an impairment charge, earnings from continuing operations were 63 cents per share, 7 cents better than what analysts polled by FactSet had projected.

Revenue slipped 5 percent to $1.46 billion, but that still edged out Wall Street’s expectations for revenue of $1.44 billion.

Worldwide revenue per available room, a key industry metric, rose 6.3 percent. North American activity surged on rising business travel during an economic recovery that appears to be gaining momentum. CEO Frits van Paasschen said activity also ramped up in China.

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Van Paasschen said that the Stamford, Conn., company is concentrating on expanding its global footprint and adding hotels that will help broaden its base of high-end travelers that are more loyal to brands.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. has almost 1,200 properties in 100 countries.

The lodging company anticipates full-year earnings of about $2.76 to $2.83 per share. It predicts second-quarter earnings of approximately 72 to 76 cents per share.

Analysts expect full-year earnings of $2.79 per share and second-quarter earnings of 76 cents per share.

Photo Credit: Starwood Hotels' W Hollywood hotel logo in Los Angeles. Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press