* 4th quarter EPS ex-impairment 10 cts vs 6 cents view
* Sees 2013 EPS $2.30-$2.50
* Sees 2013 net yields up 2-4 pct excluding currency
* Shares up 0.1percent, Carnival shares up 0.2 pct
By Phil Wahba
Feb 4 Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the
world's second-largest cruise operator, on Monday said that
strong U.S. demand and a jump in bookings so far this year would
help mitigate lingering weakness in Europe in 2013.
The cruise operator gave a revenue forecast that Wall Street
took as the latest sign of improvement after a difficult 2012:
Royal Caribbean expects net yields, which reflect passenger
tickets as well as what customers spend on board, to be up 2
percent to 4 percent this year, excluding currency fluctuations.
The cruise industry was slammed last year after the Costa
Concordia, a ship operated by Royal Caribbean's larger rival
Carnival Corp & Plc, ran aground off the Italian coast,
killing 32 people, scaring off many vacationers.
"This is more evidence of recovery - the industry seems to
be getting past the accident and returning to a pattern of net
yield growth," ITG analyst Matthew Jacob told Reuters, noting
that Wall Street was expecting far more modest net yield growth.
Royal Caribbean said bookings in recent weeks were about 20
percent higher than a year earlier in the aftermath of Costa
In December, Royal Caribbean shares were hit when Carnival
gave a weak forecast that suggested the cruise industry was not
recovering as quickly from the disaster as previously hoped.
The company expects record yields on its Caribbean and
Alaska itineraries to "more than offset" slow demand in Europe
where a weak economy, particularly on its Mediterranean rim, and
lingering impact from the Costa Concordia have hurt sales.
"Looking forward, we see a tale of two continents; North
America is doing well, while parts of Europe continue to be a
challenge," Chief Executive Richard Fain said in a statement.
Longer term, Royal Caribbean sounded a bullish note for
Europe where customers are getting used to a tough spending
"We are optimistic that the (European) public is coming to
terms with this new normal," Fain said on a call with analysts.
Royal Caribbean reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $392.8
million, or $1.80 per share, on revenue of $1.81 billion,
compared with a profit of $36.6 million, or 17 cents per share,
on revenue of $1.78 billion a year earlier.
The loss stemmed from a $413.9 million impairment charge
related to its Spanish cruise line Pullmantur, which has been
hit by austerity measures in that country. The company said it
has seen a "significant deterioration" in demand in Spain.
Excluding the Pullmantur write-down, Royal Caribbean
reported a profit of 10 cents, beating Wall Street estimates by
4 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S/.
Royal Caribbean, whose lines also include Celebrity Cruises
and Azamara Club Cruises, anticipates 2013 earnings of $2.30 per
share to $2.50 per share.
Shares in Royal Caribbean were up 0.1 percent to $36.84,
while Carnival's were up 0.2 percent in morning trading.