Carnival cuts 2019 profit forecast on fuel-price spike

(Reuters) - Cruise operator Carnival Corp CCL.N on Thursday cut its 2019 profit forecast for the third time as it expects to take a hit from higher fuel prices, sending its shares down nearly 9%.

Fuel, a large part of cruise operators’ operating costs, accounted for about 11.4% of Carnival’s total operating expense in its third quarter ended Aug. 31.

Oil prices surged recently following attacks on Saudi Arabia’s biggest oil facility that has triggered geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald said he expects a hit of 8 cents per share from the recent spike in fuel prices.

“We have also made close-in deployment changes, including those made to address the recent situation in the Arabian Gulf, which has had an impact on recent booking trends and ticket prices,” Donald said.

The company said it now expects adjusted earnings of $4.23 to $4.27 per share in 2019, down from its earlier forecast of $4.25 to $4.35 per share.

The outlook overshadowed the cruise operator’s better-than-expected quarterly sales and profit.

Miami-based Carnival’s revenue rose nearly 12% to $6.53 billion, beating the average analyst estimate of $6.17 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Excluding items, the company earned $2.63 per share, ahead of $2.53 per share estimated by analysts.

The gloomy forecast also dragged down shares of Carnival's rivals Royal Caribbean Cruises RCL.N and Norwegian Cruise Line NCLH.N by more than 3%.

Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva