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Higher ticket and on-board spending lift NCLH Q2

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings chalked up a second quarter profit of $171.6m, or 75 cents per share, 2 cents higher than Wall Street expectations and ahead of the 58 cents a year ago. The company also raised the midpoint of its guidance for the year by a nickel per share, citing strong booking volumes.

Adjusted net yield on a combined company basis was 1.5%, or 3.2% in constant currency, driven by stronger pricing. On a reported basis, the increase was 18.2%.

Revenues rose to $1.09bn, up from $766m in Q2 2014.

'The benefits of the combination of Norwegian and Prestige are beginning to hit their full stride, resulting in strong earnings growth in the quarter,' said Frank Del Rio, president and ceo of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

'Many of the strategies we have previously communicated are gaining more and more traction, from the weaving of Prestige's go to market strategy into the Norwegian brand's pricing and marketing practices, to the focus on adding value for our guests in lieu of discounting, in addition to leveraging our scale to maximize cost efficiencies,' Del Rio continued.

Adjusted EPS increased 29.3% over prior year and was at the top end of the company's guidance, benefiting from solid net yield performance along with favorable timing of certain expenses. On a GAAP basis, the profit was $158.5m, or 69 cents per share, compared to the prior year's $111.6m, or 54 cents per share.

Adjusted net yield improved 18.2% (20.2% constant currency) mainly due to the addition of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises in Q4 2014. On a combined company basis, which compares current results against the combined results of Norwegian and Prestige in the prior year, adjusted net yield increased 1.5%, (3.2% constant currency), reflecting improved pricing in both ticket and on-board revenue.

Adjusted net cruise cost excluding fuel per capacity day rose 21.1% (22% constant currency), primarily as a result of the Prestige acquisition, while on a combined company basis decreased 4.7% (4% constant currency), primarily due to the timing of certain expenses that will now occur in the second half of the year. NCLH's fuel price per metric ton, net of hedges, decreased 10.3% to $558 from $622 in 2014.

Interest expense, net increased to $52.4m from $31.9m due to incremental debt from the Prestige acquisition.

NCLH said the strong booking environment that began with wave season has continued into the second and third quarters with volumes continually outpacing the same time last year. Looking to 2016, resurgence in Caribbean demand, combined with the strong booking environment, has resulted in 30% more booked revenue compared to the same time last year on a capacity increase of approximately 11%.

Due to its strong first half 2015 results, NCLH raised the midpoint of its full year guidance, which now goes to $2.80 to $2.90, up from $2.75 to $2.90. Q3 EPS is expected in the range of $1.30 to $1.35. Analysts had been projecting $1.36 for Q3.

'While [it's] still early in the 2016 booking cycle, we have seen strong demand across all three brands,' cfo Wendy Beck said.

'We are maintaining our net yield and net cruise cost guidance for the year as benefits from our incremental revenue synergies offset the anticipated foreign currency headwinds and the revenue impact from the unscheduled drydock of Norwegian Star,' Beck added.

The docking was for warranty-related repairs on the ship's propeller system which malfunctioned after its scheduled drydock in the first quarter.

Further, Beck noted the company's reinvestment of $20m into demand-driving initiatives is offset by incremental cost synergies identified in the quarter.