Higher Ticket Prices, Onboard Spending Boost Carnival Corp.'s Q4

cashCarnival Corp. reports that the company's bottom line saw improvements in both the fourth quarter of 2014 and the year as a whole.

Revenues for the full year of 2014 rose, at $15.9 billion compared to $15.5 billion for the prior year. Cash from operations for the full year 2014 totaled $3.4 billion compared to $2.8 billion in 2013. 

Carnival Corp. president and CEO Arnold Donald said, "Full year earnings were significantly higher than the prior year primarily due to strong profit improvement at both our Carnival Cruise Lines and Costa Cruises brands. We enjoyed some early wins from our collaboration efforts that contributed to our improved results, particularly for onboard revenues. We worked hard to contain costs and achieved an almost five percent reduction in fuel consumption for the year as we continue to implement energy conservation measures. We also made a number of strategic decisions in fleet investments that will position us well for the future."

Commenting on the fourth quarter Donald stated, "Last quarter operating profit more than doubled due to higher ticket prices and onboard spending combined with lower costs, also exceeding previous guidance." During the quarter, the Carnival Cruise Lines brand achieved a significant increase in revenue yields despite a highly competitive environment in the Caribbean. Additionally, Costa's Asia operations achieved double-digit revenue yield improvement on a capacity increase in that region."

New ship introductions during the quarter generated substantial media coverage and positive buzz, including the North American debut of Regal Princess, which featured a reunion of the Love Boat cast and numerous guest stars who appeared on the hit TV show, as well as the delivery of Costa Diadema in Genoa, Italy. The company also recently  placed orders with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for three new ships for its Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line and Seabourn brands to be delivered in 2018. In addition, the company recently sold three of its smaller vessels – Costa Celebration, Grand Holiday and Ocean Princess.

2015 Outlook 

At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the first three quarters of 2015 are ahead of the prior year at slightly higher prices. Since September, booking volumes for the first three quarters of 2015 are running ahead of last year's levels at slightly lower prices driven by transactional currency impacts.

Donald said, "The current base of business for 2015 builds confidence in our expectation of continuing yield growth with acceleration in yield improvement starting in the second quarter."

Based on current booking trends, the company forecasts full year 2015 net revenue yields, on a constant dollar basis, to be up approximately 2 percent compared to the prior year. First quarter revenue yields (constant dollars) are expected to be slightly higher than the prior year and improve during the remainder of 2015.

The company expects net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD, on a constant dollar basis, for full year 2015 to be up approximately 3 percent primarily due to higher dry-dock costs, advertising expenses and product enhancements. Based on current spot prices for fuel, forecasted fuel costs for the full year 2015 are expected to decrease $475 million compared to 2014, net of fuel derivatives, benefiting the company by $0.61 per share. This is forecasted to be partially offset by unfavorable movements in currency exchange rates worth $0.20 per share (includes both translational and transactional currency exchange impacts). Taking the above factors into consideration, the company forecasts full year 2015 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $2.30 to $2.60, compared to 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings of $1.96 per share.

Donald said, "Based on our current 2015 guidance, we expect to achieve a 50 percent improvement in earnings compared to 2013 and are firmly on a path toward delivering double-digit returns on invested capital."

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