RCL sails to 25% year-over-year profit, posts upbeat outlook

Royal Caribbean nailed its fourth quarter, finishing 2016 with a more than 25% profit spike, and posted an upbeat outlook for 2017 with its booked position better than last year's record high, and at higher rates.

Q4 US GAAP and adjusted net income were $261.1m, or $1.21 per share, and $264.7m, or $1.23 per share, respectively, compared to US GAAP and adjusted net income of $206.8m, or 94 cents per share, the year before. The Wall Street consensus expectation was $1.21.

Constant-currency net cruise costs, excluding fuel, were down 1.9%, better than guidance, driven by operational efficiencies. Net yields on a constant-currency basis increased 5.3%, below guidance due mainly to lower close-in pricing.

For the full year, US GAAP and adjusted earnings were $5.93 and $6.08 per share, respectively, more than a 25% increase in both US GAAP and adjusted earnings over 2015. In 2015, the US GAAP figure was $3.02 per share, which included an impairment charge for Pullmantur, and adjusted net income was $4.83 per share.

Revenues for the quarter were flat at $1.9bn, and for the full year rose to $8.5bn from $8.3bn in 2015.

The company projects 2017 EPS in the range of $6.90 to $7.10, ahead of the consensus forecast of $6.81.

Q1 adjusted earnings are estimated at 90 cents per share. 'Robust demand in Australia for Ovation of the Seas and exceedingly strong demand for Harmony of the Seas in the Caribbean' are key contributors to this quarter's projected yield improvement of up 4.5% to 5% (constant currency) and up approximately 5% (as reported).

Relative to 2016, costs are expected to be down substantially in the first half of 2017 and up in the second half. In the first six months the company will recognize a benefit from the sale of Legend of the Seas, leverage scale from new capacity and have significantly fewer drydock days.

Royal Caribbean attributed its 2017 booked position to strength from North American consumers driving 'exceptionally positive trends for North American and European products. These trends, along with a positive outlook for Australia and a solid booked position in China for the first half of the year, are positioning the company for robust growth in 2017.'

CFO Jason Liberty said Royal Caribbean's global portfolio is demonstrating strength across virtually all key markets.

'Strong topline growth combined with continued focus on cost management will generate another year of record-setting results,' he added. 'Even with significant pressure from FX [foreign exchange] and fuel, we will deliver another stellar year.'

Based on current rates, FX and fuel will cost the company 18 cents per share versus last year's figures. Since Royal Caribbean's last update, the impact has worsened by a dime per share.

Posted 26 January 2017

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review