It was 2008 and the world was falling apart. The financial crisis drilled holes in every part of the economy. Travel and leisure were getting hit, and it would only get worse. Hotels were taking it hard on the chin.

And if you go back and read the press releases, investor presentations, and SEC filings of Ashford Hospitality Trust (pre-spin-off of AHP and AINC), you can see that Ashford Prime management was on top of it from the beginning.

As RevPAR began to fall across the industry, Ashford Prime began cutting expenses at the property level aggressively. As RevPAR continued to fall, Ashford Prime cut even more. By the time RevPAR was seeing 17% YOY declines, Ashford was seeing 17% YOY expense cuts.

Ashford Prime management never whistled past the graveyard. They took action.

In another move, Ashford Prime management pro-actively drew down its entire $200 million credit facility. While other hotel REITs were having their facilities pulled, Ashford grabbed theirs while it was still available. It gave itself plenty of working capital compared to its peers.

Some of that money was put to very good use. While other hotel REITs were busy burning the furniture to keep the house warm, Ashford was the ONLY hotel REIT to repurchase both common and preferred stock at outrageous discounts.

During 2009 alone, Ashford repurchased 33 million shares of common stock and 3 million shares of preferred while its peers issued equity just to stay afloat. In 2009, common shares traded (pre-spin-off) between $0.63 and $3.34, and the Preferred D Series traded between $6.79 and $18. Today alone the common stock is at $5.50, and was even double that at one point, and the Preferred is at $25, demonstrating the fantastic ROI these buybacks created.

This shows Ashford management’s acumen.

Can Sessa Capital’s nominees make anything approaching a similar claim? No way.

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