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Earnings Beat of the Week: Carnival Cruise Line Posts First Profit Since 2020

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Key Takeaways

  • Carnival Corporation posted record revenue and its first quarterly profit since 2020, thanks to a surge in bookings as the post-pandemic travel boom continued unabated.
  • Net income came in at $1.07 billion, or 79 cents per share, which exceeded estimates of 73 cents.
  • Revenue surged almost 60% from a year ago to $6.85 billion, a quarterly record.
  • However, the company issued weaker-than-expected guidance for the fourth quarter, warning that rising fuel costs could impact profit margins.

Cruise line operator Carnival Corporation (CCL) posted record revenue and its first quarterly profit since 2020 as bookings surged, but shares fell on a weaker-than-expected profit outlook, as rising fuel costs could start to weigh on margins.

Carnival earned a $1.07 billion profit, its first since 2020 when pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions decimated the company’s core business. That was equal to 79 cents per share, which exceeded expectations of 73 cents. Revenue of $6.85 billion also exceeded projections of $6.72 billion and was up almost 60% from the same quarter last year.

The results reflect strong demand for cruise bookings, which hit a third-quarter record and ran nearly 20% above 2019 levels, as the post-pandemic travel boom continued unabated. North American bookings surged to new records, while those in Europe recovered all pandemic losses.

Holland America Line, one of Carnival’s subsidiary cruise lines, broke a single-day record for bookings on July 11.

Management is confident the momentum could extend into next year.

“Our booked position for 2024 is further out than we have ever seen and at strong prices,” said Carnival CEO Josh Weinstein.

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However, the company warned rising fuel costs could impact its profit margins.

Fuel is one of the company’s biggest input costs, essential for operating its cruises. The company expects fourth-quarter EBITDA in a range of $800 to $900 million, while analysts had expected $950 million. Higher fuel and currency costs could shed up to $125 million from the company’s EBITDA this year, projected between $4.1 billion and $4.2 billion.

The lower-than-expected guidance sent Carnival shares down nearly 5% Friday, but they were still up more than 70% year-to-date.

Travel demand has surged after the pandemic, lifting shares of companies in the travel and hospitality-oriented sectors like airlines, cruise lines, hotels, casinos, and resorts, along with ETFs that track their performance. The Defiance Hotel, Airline, and Cruise ETF (CRUZ) is up more than 18% so far this year, outperforming the S&P 500’s 12% gain over the same period.

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