Royal Caribbean profit soars as more passengers get onboard

Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:13pm EDT

(Reuters) - Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N) reported a surprisingly strong quarterly profit as a series of mishaps across the cruise industry failed to dissuade passengers, who spent more on both tickets and onboard entertainment.

Shares of the world's second-largest cruise operator rose 9 percent to $37.36 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Larger rival Carnival Corp & Plc's (CCL.N) (CCL.L) shares also rose 3 percent.

Royal Caribbean maintained its full-year forecast, despite a string of incidents that affected the industry, including a norovirus outbreak on its Vision of the Seas ship in March.

The industry has suffered from negative publicity arising from incidents such as Carnival's Costa Concordia running aground last year and an engine-room fire in February that left another Carnival ship stranded at sea for days.

Royal Caribbean said net yields, which include cruise tickets and spending on board, rose 3.6 percent in the quarter, excluding currency fluctuations.

Net yields for the quarter were the highest since 2000, driven by vacationers in Brazil and Asia, Chief Financial Officer Brian Rice said on a post earnings conference call with analysts.

Booking volumes also averaged 5 percent more than the year earlier, the company said.

Royal Caribbean also said demand from Europe -- which has long been a drag on the company -- strengthened in early February and the company expects pricing improvement from the region this year.

Royal Caribbean maintained its full-year earnings forecast of between $2.30 and $2.50 per share and said it expects net yields to increase 2 percent to 4 percent.

Net profit rose to $76.2 million, or 35 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $47.0 million, or 21 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue for the company, whose lines also include Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, rose 4 percent to $1.91 billion.

Analysts on average expected the company to report a profit of 20 cents per share on revenue of $1.88 billion.

(Reporting by Siddharth Cavale in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane)

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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