All Hands on Deck at Royal Caribbean

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Climb out of those lifeboats, Royal Caribbean (NYSE: RCL  ) investors. Your ship isn't sinking.

The cruise ship giant delivered better than expected results this morning, as healthy passenger yields, a sequential dip in fuel prices, and lower non-fuel net cruise costs helped clear the way to smooth sailing on the way to the bottom line.

Earnings rose 4% to $1.92 a share for the company's seasonally strongest summer quarter, well ahead of the dip to $1.66 a share that Wall Street was expecting. Royal Caribbean did record a favorable legal settlement during the third quarter, but the cruise line would have still blown past analyst guesstimates. Revenue inched 5% higher to $2.1 billion.

A lot of moving parts go into every cruise company's quarterly results. Royal Caribbean paid 46% more for its fuel than it did a year ago, but that was actually less than the company had baked into its guidance. Plunging energy prices in recent months bode well for that material line item in the near term. Excluding fuel, the company posted a 2% dip in net cruise costs per available passenger cruise day over last year. The company continues to cut costs where possible.

The strengthening dollar is not Royal Caribbean's friend given the unflattering currency translations of money made overseas, but that's a small part of the bigger picture at Royal Caribbean.

The company is now looking to earn between $2.73 a share and $2.78 a share for all of 2008. With Royal Caribbean's price in the mid-teens, Mr. Market is out to lunch if it thinks that the company is worth just five times earnings.

Yes, bookings have been weak lately. The crummy economy is not going to do Carnival (NYSE: CCL  ) (NYSE: CUK  ) , NCL, and Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) any favors here, either. Once onboard, passengers may be less likely to hand money over to Rule Breakers newsletter recommendation Steiner Leisure (Nasdaq: STNR  ) , the company that runs most of Royal Caribbean's on-board spas.

However, investors may be better off riding the storm out in cruise industry stocks than in more conventional travel plays like hoteliers. Starwood (NYSE: HOT  ) and Marriott (NYSE: MAR  ) have posted share declines in their timeshare businesses this month, while the pure play cruising companies are offering a compelling vacation value without the real estate exposure.

It's hard not to like Royal Caribbean at today's prices, so be proud shareholders. You're not caught between a rockwall and a hard place.

Other headlines to ride out the rough seas:

Steiner Leisure is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Royal Caribbean and Disney are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz lives in Miami, where taking cruises is a local ritual. He does not own shares in any of the other companies mentioned in this story, save for Disney. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 31, 2008, at 3:32 PM, calargi wrote:

    Not sure if I'm in the right part of this site. Is there an interactive message board that I should be at instead?

    I've been looking for current info on RCL for a while. Seems I got in at the high point and have been riding it down - Now down about 60%. Just to get back to even, I need to make 150%. This article sounds promising, I'm just not sure I can wait that long.

    Does anyone have some helpful ideas? I'm nearing retirement and can't stay in reverse this much.

  • Report this Comment On October 21, 2013, at 1:39 PM, Evita75 wrote:

    Timeshares do not typically pay for themselves, unless the currency you are talking about is memories. Even then, you can still get those memories at a fraction of the overall cost. While the sales agent may not want to divulge this information to you, timeshares are most definitely not just about property payments. They also come with plenty of other costs, hidden fees and taxes. No matter how little you use the timeshare, you are still responsible for its upkeep, sometimes including utility costs and maintenance. These extra fees can be hundreds of dollars per year. This is a good article on how to get out of timeshare:

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