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Lindblad loss narrows as nine of 10 ships operating, weighs more capacity

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings reduced its fourth quarter net loss on a big revenue increase with nine of 10 ships operating and said bookings have been growing every week since end December.

The last ship, National Geographic Orion, is expected to resume service in French Polynesia in the second quarter.

The company returned to positive operating cash flow in Q4.

Net loss was $27.8m, or 54 cents per share, down from the $31m net loss, or 59 cents per share, in Q4 2020. Revenues ballooned to $65.6m from $367,000. This was driven by a $42.5m increase at the Lindblad segment with expeditions resuming last June, and a $22.7m increase at the land experiences segment with operations resuming and the inclusion of results from Off the Beaten Path, DuVine and Classic Journeys, all acquired during 2021.

Bookings outlook

Compared to the same date two years ago, bookings for the second half of 2022 are nearly 20% ahead of the bookings for the second half of 2020 and bookings for 2023 are 54% ahead of the bookings for 2021.

CFO Craig Felenstein said only 11% of bookings for 2023 use future cruise credits; most are new money. Bookings have returned to the more historic pattern of 40% repeat customers and 60% new.

Expectations for Q1 loss, second half solid profit

While a first quarter loss is expected, Felenstein described the Q2 outlook as uncertain, with 'possible positive earnings.' He expects the second half to be 'solidly profitable.'

Russia and Greenland not fully open

Lindblad hopes to return to all its traditional itineraries but Felenstein identified the two 'biggest hurdles' as Russia, which has not yet fully opened — current political issues aside — and Greenland.  

Buy or build more ships?

Asked about interest in the opportunity for luxury ship acquisitions in an analyst's question that likely referred to Crystal Cruises, CEO Dolf Berle said the company is always looking at ways to add capacity that's strategically aligned with its size and geographies and in active conversations 'with any number of folks who have ships out there.'

He added Lindblad's interest in going forward with additional newbuilds following the strength of National Geographic Endurance and National Geographic Resolution, 'but at this point we are not placing that order.'

Dynamic pricing ahead

Technology investments will enable Lindblad to be more 'nimble' with pricing, Berle said. Previously, the company didn't have the capability to analyze competitors' pricing in various geographies in real time. In future, Lindblad will be able to dynamically adjust pricing and marketing promotions.