RCCL Cuts Earnings Estimate Slightly, But Says Bookings Are Rebounding

In issuing its first quarter 2012 earnings report, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), parent of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, cut its 2012 annual earnings forecast from $1.90 to $2.30 per share to $1.80 to $2.10 per share.

RCCL’s first quarter 2012 net income was $47 million on revenue of $1.83 billion; that compares with $78.4 million net income on revenue of $1.67 billion in the same period a year ago.

Trend-wise, the cruise company cited higher fuel costs but other operational costs were in line with or even more positive than RCCL’s previous guidance to analysts.

The company reported that its advanced bookings – depressed for most cruise companies in the aftermath of the Costa Concordia accident - are gradually improving. In fact, cumulative bookings since February are only down in the mid-single-digit range, with U.S. bookings performing stronger than last year at the same time.

“First quarter results were satisfactory given the difficult and uncertain operating environment and we continue to see gradual improvement in the demand for our great vacations," said Richard D. Fain, RCCL’s chairman and chief executive officer. Fain continued, "We did not expect the impact of the tragedy to be long-term and we are seeing evidence the effects are waning."

Pricing levels have held up everywhere except in Europe, the line said. Overall, RCCL said advance bookings for the fourth quarter of 2012 and for 2013 sailings remain strong, with both load factors and pricing running ahead of same time last year. In addition, the company has seen an increase in summer demand for its Pullmantur brand's tour product.

"Despite the extraordinary disruptions to our booking patterns this year, thus far the recovery is consistent with our forecasts," said Brian J. Rice, RCCL's executive vice president and chief financial officer. "The Caribbean and Alaska remain healthy and as expected, a wide range of outcomes still persist regarding Europe this summer."

For the full press release, visit www.rclinvestor.com.

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