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Lindblad in newbuild planning, approves stock buyback

Lindblad in newbuild planning, approves stock buyback
Lindblad Expeditions increased revenue and reduced costs in the third quarter, though profit was lower on National Geographic Orion's Australia and South Pacific program. The company said it's close to nailing a contract for two coastal newbuilds and the booking pace for 2016 is strong.

The board also approved a $20m stock and warrant repurchase plan.

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings generated tour revenue of $58.6m in Q3, an increase of $7.1m from the prior year, driven mainly by higher ticket pricing on a greater number of voyages aboard chartered and owned vessels.

The increase was partially offset by slightly lower occupancy for the fleet, a 2.5% change, mostly due to National Geographic Orion in the Kimberley season in Australia and on its Indonesian and South Pacific itineraries. As part of the redeployment of this vessel, these voyages will not be repeated in 2016.

Net yield was $935.21 compared to $950.02.

Net income was $4.4m, down from $7.3m. Adjusted EBITDA was $15.8m, a 16.2% increase from $13.6m.

'The company continued to post excellent results in the third quarter, driven specifically by the strong performance of the owned and chartered fleet, supplemented by additional charter inventory and a slight increase in departures of the owned vessels,' ceo Sven-Olof Lindblad said.

He added the results demonstrate the resilience of the business as Lindblad made up for weak demand in Australia related to the downturn in the Australian economy and currency by successfully refocusing its core US market.

Adjusted net cruise cost per available passenger night was $637.90, down from $660.60 a year ago. This was mainly due to reduced fuel cost in the quarter and a decrease in drydock costs and related fleet expenses for the owned fleet due to improved cost controls.

Lindblad Expeditions Holdings expressed continued confidence it will achieve the company's full year 2015 financial projections for revenue of $204m and adjusted EBITDA of $45m.

'We continue to see early indicators of a strong booking pace for 2016,' Ian Rogers, cfo and operating officer said, citing 63% of ticket revenue for the 2016 financial year on the books as of Oct. 15, 2015, compared with 61% at the same time in 2014 for the 2015 financial year.

In Q3 the company signed a non-binding letter of intent to build two coastal vessels with expected deliveries in Q2 of 2017 and 2018 and paid a $4m non-refundable slot fee to reserve a shipyard's capacity. Negotiations of the final contract based on the letter of intent are ongoing and the building is expected to commence in Q4.

'We are deep in final details for the new US-flagged vessels for delivery in 2017 and 2018,' Sven-Olof Lindblad said. These 100-passenger ships will be deployed in geographies complementary to the company's existing US coastal vessels where demand is strong.

'We also continue to explore a range of acquisition opportunities that we believe would be accretive to our planned newbuild expansion,' Lindblad added.