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NCLH Q3 sails in at high end of forecast, full-year outlook goes up

Lengthened booking curve drove higher pricing, particularly at the Norwegian Cruise Line brand
Stronger pricing drove third quarter profit at the high end of guidance for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, and the company raised the midpoint of its full-year earnings outlook by a nickel per share.

Adjusted net income was $311.1m, or $1.35 per share, a 22% increase. Revenue was $1.28bn, up from $907m. On a GAAP basis, net income was $251.8m, or $1.09 per share, compared to $201.1m, or 97 cents per share, a year ago.

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 2.2% (4.7% constant currency) due to improved pricing. This was driven by strength in the Caribbean, Bermuda and Alaska itineraries, partially offset by softness in certain eastern Mediterranean itineraries.

NCLH president and ceo Frank Del Rio credited the 'continued momentum from our revenue enhancement strategies' for the strong earnings performance. What's most impressive, he added, is that this was driven purely by organic growth, 'demonstrating that robust topline growth need not be predicated solely on the addition of new ships to our fleet.'

Based on the strong net yield, NCLH raised the midpoint of its full-year adjusted EPS guidance to $2.85 to $2.90. That compares to the Wall Street consensus expectation of $2.89. Newly issued Q4 guidance is for adjusted EPS of 45 cents to 50 cents.

CFO Wendy Beck said the alignment of revenue management strategies across the company's three brands resulted in a lengthening of the booking curve, enabling NCLH to drive higher pricing, particularly at the Norwegian Cruise Line brand.

'This stronger pricing is contributing to robust earnings growth of approximately 27% in 2015, and brings our three-year compound annual growth rate to over 40% since our initial public offering in 2013,' Beck continued.

Del Rio said the momentum of implemented initiatives is building and is reflected in the 'solid foundation of bookings which, coupled with the powerful earnings growth from our existing fleet and upcoming ship additions, have positioned 2016 to be a breakout year.'

Norwegian Escape has just entered service, Sirena will begin sailing for Oceania Cruises in April and Seven Seas Explorer joins the Regent Seven Seas Cruises fleet in Q3.

Del Rio expressed confidence in the company's $5 EPS target in 2017 and the ability to grow return on invested capital to 14% by 2018.