Europe pricing lifts NCLH to Q3 high but storms, Gem cut 2017 outlook

Strong performance across core markets and a new high in pricing for European itineraries lifted Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to a record third quarter profit.

But the company slightly reduced its full-year guidance on the impact from hurricanes—which will cost the company 12 cents per share, evenly split between Q3 and Q4—and a Norwegian Gem technical issue.

Adjusted net income was $427m, or $1.86 per share, higher than Wall Street's $1.82 forecast and the $1.62 a year ago. US GAAP net income was $400.7m, or $1.74 per share, up from $342.m, or $1.50 per share. Total revenue increased 11.2% to $1.7bn.

2017 EPS is now expected to be approximately $3.90, 7 cents lower than the Wall Street expectation and slightly under the company's guidance of $3.93 to $4.03.

Excluding the impact from weather disruptions along with a current technical issue on Norwegian Gem, adjusted EPS guidance would have increased to approximately $4.05, exceeding the high-end of NCLH's prior guidance range. Q4 EPS is forecast at 62 cents.

'Strong operational performance across our core markets, bolstered by strength in European itineraries, where pricing has now exceeded the previous high watermark of 2015, drove third quarter revenue and yield growth well ahead of expectations, despite the disruptions caused by weather-related events during the quarter,' NCLH president and CEO Frank Del Rio said.

'Over the last several weeks we have seen consumer demand continue to accelerate for Caribbean sailings and booking volumes have now reached pre-hurricane levels,' Del Rio added.

'Our booked position for full year 2018 remains well ahead in both load and price compared to prior year across all three of our brands, despite booking headwinds caused by weather-related disruptions in the Caribbean,' EVP and CFO Wendy Beck said.

The third quarter's 11.2% revenue spike was mainly due to a 9.1% increase in capacity days primarily from the addition of China ship Norwegian Joy, which entered service in late June, along with an increase in net yield due to strength in ticket pricing and higher on-board and other revenue. Q3's adjusted net yield improved 3% in constant currency and 3.1% as reported.

Adjusted net cruise cost excluding fuel per capacity day increased 0.5% in constant currency and 0.6% as reported primarily due to an increase in marketing, general and administrative expenses offset by lower cruise operating expenses.

Beck said NCLH continues to focus on further strengthening its balance sheet as evidenced by the success of the company's recent refinancing.

'We are now within our targeted leverage range of three to four times with further meaningful deleveraging expected in 2018 and beyond,' she said.

Posted 09 November 2017

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Anne Kalosh

US editor of Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Cruise News

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