It's been a rough month for the cruise industry, if you go by the headlines. From a freak wave flooding cabins on NCL's Norwegian Dawn to last week's incident in which Royal Caribbean
Things haven't been much better in the stock pages, either, where market leaders Carnival
Damaged sector? Hardly. Last week, we had Royal Caribbean announce a 41% spike in March-quarter earnings despite a 30% surge in fuel costs. With bookings coming in strong and passengers willing to spend more, Royal Caribbean had a good showing that mirrored the healthy results Carnival posted last month.
The sluggish share performance is befuddling. Should investors in Rule Breakers newsletter recommendation Steiner Leisure
Not necessarily. While the market is concerned about the impact on higher fuel prices, Steiner's business is related to how much money the passengers are willing to spend on spa services and products once onboard. Besides, am I the only one who sees higher fuel prices as a possible positive for the industry? Family road trips earmarked for this summer could get replaced by cruise vacations, where folks can travel to exotic places without having to pump pricey gas every few hundred miles.
Yes, the cruise operators are a leveraged lot, making a shortfall even more of a burden, but Steiner works off a much cleaner balance sheet.
However, if Steiner isn't enough to win you over, maybe you should take a closer look at the cruise companies. Carnival is now trading at 18 times this year's guidance, while Royal Caribbean is fetching just 15 times the midrange of its 2005 profitability target. The valuations are attractive, and the industry trends remain favorable.
Steiner is also looking cheap. It is trading at just 15 times analyst estimates, and it should be noted that Steiner has also topped Wall Street's numbers for 11 consecutive quarters.
So, what are you waiting for? Your green never looked so good drifting toward the big blue waves.
Do you need Julie or Gopher to show you to your next lyrical berth?
- Check out how Carnival was able to grow earnings by 70% this past quarter.
- Steiner Leisure also had some healthy earnings to recall earlier this year.
- Check out some of the other Rule Breakers stock picks.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz was a passenger on a three-night Royal Caribbean cruise last month, but he does not own shares in any of the other companies mentioned in this story. 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.
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