Club Med bookings slow, shares down

PARIS Fri Dec 9, 2011 7:40am EST

A Club Med banner blows in the wind on the dock at the Club Med Beldi vacation resort in Beldibi June 22, 2009.    REUTERS/John Schults

A Club Med banner blows in the wind on the dock at the Club Med Beldi vacation resort in Beldibi June 22, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/John Schults

PARIS (Reuters) - French holiday operator Club Med (CMIP.PA) said winter season bookings had slowed in recent weeks as the euro zone debt crisis deepened, adding it was cautious over prospects for 2012.

Shares fell 3 percent in early Friday trade as investors fretted over low visibility for the business and appeared unmoved by the rise in profits for fiscal year 2010-11.

Chief Executive Henri Giscard d'Estaing said on a conference call that 2012 looked like "a difficult year to predict."

As of December 3, total winter-season bookings were up 3.8 percent. However, they were down 4.2 percent in the last eight weeks, the company said.

Bookings in Europe were down 8 percent in the eight-week period, a situation Club Med also linked to tougher comparative figures from the same time last year.

"Visibility on 2012 earnings is very poor," one trader said.

By 0925 GMT, Club Med shares were off 0.8 percent at 11.83 euros, having dropped to a session-low of 11.51 euros.

Club Med operates 75 resorts in 40 countries, ranging from Caribbean beach villages to Alpine ski locations.

The group, which has recast itself as an upmarket holiday group, swung to a net profit of 2 million euros for the year ended October 31 from a 14-million loss the previous year.

Last month, Giscard d'Estaing told Reuters he believed the group's shift upmarket would help it through the tough economic times ahead and that he was betting on expansion in the Americas and China to drive growth

Earlier this month, Europe's biggest travel firm TUI Travel (TT.L) reported a better-than-expected full-year profit, boosted by strong online sales and demand for exclusive resorts and offering a stark contrast to struggling rival Thomas Cook (TCG.L).

Club Med said on Friday the operating income of its holiday villages rose 48 percent to 61 million euros as revenue grew 6.3 percent to 1.46 billion euros.

The closely-watched metric of operating income at its holiday villages before depreciation, amortization and provisions rose to 8.9 percent of sales from 8 percent the previous year and should exceed 9 percent at end-2012, the group said.

Club Med was previously targeting a margin close to 10 percent for fiscal year 2011/12.

Net debt fell to 165 million euros from 197 million as Club Med generated free cash flow of 38 million euros.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Editing by Mark Potter)

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