Cruise Analyst Talks Price Tracking; Sees Two Percent Rise in RCL Yields for 2015

 

Royal Caribbean International's Explorer of the Seas sails out of Bermuda. // Photo by Susan J. Young

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCL), parent of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, is expected to reveal its initial perspective on 2015 yields next week when it reports quarterly earnings, according to Robin Farley, an analyst with UBS Investment Research.

Farley's firm expects a 2 percent growth in yields for the cruise company, perhaps low single digit growth. She said that Carnival Corp.’s recent financial results -- revealing that Caribbean close-in demand is driving some of the upside in the third quarter -- is a positive indicator for the Royal Caribbean brands as well.

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One reason? Caribbean and Bermuda itineraries represent 32 percent of the Royal Caribbean brands’ third quarter 2014 deployment. “The positive read-through for the Caribbean is even more important as we look into fourth quarter demand, as the Caribbean/Bermuda is close to 49 percent of deployments for RCL,” Farley said in a report to her firm's investors. 

“Double-digit yield growth in Europe will also support a strong third quarter 2014," Farley believes. She also said Carnival Corp.’s recent commentary and moves relating to China and double-digit yield growth in that Asian market “also seem likely to mean an upbeat outlook from RCL on that market.” 

Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise company, recently repositioned Alan Buckelew, a veteran cruise industry executive and its chief operating officer, to Shanghai, China, to head up operations there.  

RELATED: Carnival Moves Buckelew to Shanghai, China

Similarly, the Royal Caribbean International brand will reposition its newest ship, Quantum of the Seas, to the Chinese market, sailing year-round from Shanghai starting in spring 2015. 

RELATED: Royal Caribbean To Position Quantum of the Seas in China

Cruise Tracker

The UBS Cruise Price Tracker, a analysis tool the investment group uses to pinpoint cruise price shifts, shows that the average cruise pricing is currently “flattish to slightly positive," Farley said.

Over the past four weeks, excluding the week of Sept. 21 (with a 2.3 percent decline likely due to the release of new 2015-2016 sailings), Farley said Caribbean and Bahamas pricing industrywide was “in positive territory” on a four-week basis.

In addition, Alaska pricing was stable following a solid sequential uptick in late August and September. The western Mediterranean has been stronger in comparison to eastern Mediterranean itineraries, the research group said. 

Norwegian Breakaway // Photo by Young

Excluding the week of Sept. 21, the cruise price tracker showed Norwegian Cruise Line up 1.6 percent over a four-week period, while Carnival Corp.'s brands were up 1.6 percent over a four-week period, a performance Farley described as “flattish.”

Celebrity Cruises’ pricing was down 1.1 percent, and the Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International and Costa Cruises brands were down less than 1 percent. “Holland America is flattish,” the analyst told her investors in a research note.

UBS Investment Research rates RCL as “buy,” and more detail will be available next week after the RCL release of third quarter earnings, Farley said. 

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