2003-10-30 / Travel

Royal Caribbean Profits Decline Slightly During Third Quarter

Royal Caribbean Profits Decline Slightly During Third Quarter

MIAMI (AP) – Royal Caribbean reported a slight decline in third-quarter profits recently as the cruise line industry continued to recover from fewer bookings during the war in Iraq.

The Miami-based cruise operator reported net income of $191.9 million, or 97 cents a share, for the quarter ending Sept. 30, compared to $193.5 million, or 99 cents a share, a year earlier.

Earnings per share just missed Wall Street analysts’ average forecast of 98 cents a share, according to Thomson First Call.

Revenues were $1.12 billion, up 8.6 percent from $1.03 billion for the same quarter in 2002. Officials attributed the growth to an increase in ca-pacity and shipboard revenues, partial-ly offset by lower cruise ticket prices and occupancy levels.

Operating income increased 3 percent to $249.1 million from $241.5 million a year ago.

Net revenue yields were down 2.1 percent compared to a year ago. Com-pany officials said they expected net yields – or revenues per available passenger cruise day – for the fourth quarter to decrease 1 percent to 3 percent from the previous year.

The company said it expects earnings for 2003 to be in the range of $1.42 to $1.46 per share. Royal Ca-ribbean said close-in bookings, made within 90 days of sailing, remain just under half of its bookings, complicating yield performance forecasts.

"While we have seen a significant post-Iraq war recovery, the fourth quarter has been somewhat an exception to the overall trend,’’ said Royal Caribbean chairman and chief executive Richard Fain. "Nevertheless, our net yield performance continues to reinforce the strength of our brands and serves as encouragement in our ability to perform in 2004.’’

Shares in Royal Caribbean fell 9 cents to $30.27 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Royal Caribbean operates Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, with 26 ships.

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