Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said 2019 reservations have set
records in two of the first three weeks of January, with the middle week being
near record levels.
That and optimistic forecasts gave RCCL shares a boost, up
6.7% in mid-morning trading.
Royal Caribbean commented in a conference call for investors
in which it reported fourth quarter and full-year results for 2018.
RCCL earned $1.81 billion last year, up from $1.63 billion a
year earlier. Revenue rose 8.2% to $9.5 billion.
The company forecasted earnings of $2.05 billion to $2.11
billion for 2019, after adjustments for unrealized gains or losses on fuel
derivatives and other items.
“Strong fundamentals are driving strong results,”
RCCL chairman Richard Fain said.
The only weak spot RCCL identified was in the U.K., where
the debate surrounding Brexit is creating economic uncertainty for vacationers.
Royal Caribbean said its 2019 business in the Caribbean is
strong, with prices and volume up for all quarters.
CFO Jason Liberty said that Wave bookings outside the U.K.
are up on both pricing and volume. “All three weeks have gone
exceptionally well,” he said.
“We’re still in the early days of Wave, but what we’ve
seen so far is a good-news story on both volumes and pricing,” Liberty
Analysts praised the strong start.
“Royal Caribbean’s solid fourth quarter 2018 results
and the continuing growth in demand for 2019 — reflected in its strong booked
position — supports our positive outlook on the lodging and cruise industry
for 2019,” said Pete Trombetta, Moody’s lodging and cruise analyst.
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