Carnival Triumph Woes Punish Passengers Worse Than Investors

Cruise ship
Cruise ship

Carnival Corporation (NYSE: CCL) is a company that is having more issues than might seem to be fair, but this is the risk of catering to hundreds or thousands of people simultaneously out on the high seas. The dead-sail status of the Carnival Triumph may not be as bad as Carnival's Costa Concordia disaster, but the reality is that Carnival is barely a year past that accident. Now word is out that one of the tugboat lines used to tug the ship back to Alabama has broken and that may cause yet another delay.

What is amazing is that Carnival shares have hardly budged if you consider how bad the public relations is from this latest incident. When the Concordia crashed in January of 2012, Carnival's stock fell from over $35 to briefly under $30. Shares recently hit $39 and the stock is down only at $37.35.

Carnival's market value is $29 billion, but the issue to consider is that Carnival has now cancelled 12 cruises for the Carnival Triumph for travel dates February 21 through April 13. That is going to lead to lower earnings for two different quarters, and that does not include any last-minute cancellations brought on by the negative public relations. With a refund being given and discounts being given for future cruises, this may even hurt margins longer than just the period covered.

Thomson Reuters has estimates of $0.06 EPS on $3.54 billion in sales for the current February-end quarter, and $0.31 EPS and $3.7 billion for the quarter ending in May. We do not expect a massive crash in the stock from this incident and it needs to be recalled that this is an accident that would be deemed a nuisance rather than a tragedy. Ship conditions have been reportedly terrible to atrocious, but again this was not a crash that sank the ship nor that brought on passenger deaths.

At $37.20, the 52-week range is $29.15 to $39.95 and the consensus analyst price target from Thomson Reuters is listed as $42.44.

Rival cruise operator Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (NYSE: RCL) trades at $35.60 versus a 52-week range of $22.12 to $38.56. Its shares have slid 2.7% from the peak two days ago while Carnival shares are down about 4.7%.

The newly-listed Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NASDAQ: NCLH) may have risen 30% after its $19 IPO price in recent weeks. This stock's post IPO range has been $24.16 to $29.54, and this is down at $28.81 after peaking just on Wednesday.

This cruise liner issue for Carnival may have put a cloud on how the media reports on the bad luck, but all in all this is not looking like it will wreck the same sort of havoc that the Costa Concordia accident caused.

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