Cruise-line operator Carnival
Quarterly sales advanced 10.5% as net revenue yields (an industry metric measuring daily net income per passenger) grew a respectable 2.5% while "another strong European season [and] a solid Alaska season" boosted improving trends in the unpredictable Caribbean market. Fuel prices grew 7.4%, and overall fuel costs jumped almost 19%, but other costs grew slower than sales, allowing earnings to cruise ahead 12%.
Strong overall booking trends and coming capacity increases caused management to increase the low end of its full-year earnings guidance. It now projects $2.92-$2.94 per share for this year, although it expects the fourth quarter to be lower "as a result of significantly higher fuel prices and timing of dry-dock expenses." Based on the current share price, that's a reasonable multiple of 16.6.
Going forward, management expects international sales to account for 38% of capacity in 2010, up from about 33.5% currently. That should help diversify uneven Caribbean revenue, which is always subject to hurricane risks. Alaska tends to be a more predictable destination, and North America sales should continue to benefit from a rising tide of retiring baby boomers, but overseas potential is higher because fewer foreigners than North Americans have ever taken a cruise vacation.
Carnival expects overall capacity to increase 7.5% in 2008, and a recent acquisition will increase the figure to 8.9%. Carnival mentioned in its most recent 10-K filing that the industry grew almost 8% from 2000 to 2005 and was able to leverage this into double-digit sales and earnings growth over this time frame.
Carnival also holds industry-leading market share, ahead of archrival Royal Caribbean
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Fool contributor Ryan Fuhrmann is long shares of Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but has no financial interest in any other company mentioned. Feel free to email him with feedback or to discuss any companies mentioned further. The Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.