Carnival gives weak forecast, says bookings still lag

NEW YORK Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:01am EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Carnival Corp & Plc (CCL.N) (CCL.L) on Thursday said bookings for 2013 so far were at lower prices and still lagging last year's levels, suggesting the industry was not recovering as quickly as previously believed.

The company, which also reported a sharply lower profit as revenue continued to be hit by last January's deadly capsizing of one of its ships off the Italian coast, which killed 32, gave a full year profit forecast below Wall Street's projections, in part because of what it called Europe's "deteriorating" economy.

The forecast stood in contrast to a bullish forecast given by smaller rival Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N) in October, and Carnival's own in September, that suggested the cruise industry's recovery was gathering pace.

Carnival forecast 2013 earnings of $2.20 to $2.40 per share. Analysts were looking for 2013 profit of $2.49 per share.

Shares were down 5.5 percent in mid-morning trading to $36.88. Royal Caribbean shares were down 3.5 percent at $33.91.

Carnival expects net revenue yields, a gauge that blends prices per cabin and how much passengers spend onboard, to be down 2 to 3 percent this quarter excluding the effect of currency, but to improve later this year on the assumption it will be able to bring prices back up.

After the Costa disaster, Carnival had to lower prices to lure vacationers back.

For the full fiscal year that just began, it expects new revenue yield to be up 1 to 2 percent, a modest improvement over a year that Chief Executive Micky Arison called "the most challenging in our company's history."

Carnival, which operates lines such as Carnival Cruises and Holland America, reported net income of $93 million, or 12 cents per share, on revenue of $2.66 billion for the fourth quarter ended November 30. That compares with net income of $217 million, or 28 cents share on revenue of $2.82 billion a year earlier.

Excluding a loss on fuel derivatives, it made a profit of 13 cents per share, 2 cents better than Wall Street expectations, according to Wall Street I/B/E/S.

(Reporting By Phil Wahba; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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