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Wells Fargo: Newbuilds could speed Norwegian's Asia entry, shedding older tonnage

Wells Fargo: Newbuilds could speed Norwegian's Asia entry, shedding older tonnage
The success of the Breakaway-class ships, coupled with Norwegian Cruise Line's newbuild pipeline—which now extends to 2019, could accelerate the company's decision to make an entry into Asia and/or dispose of older vessels, Wells Fargo Securities said in a note.

While some were surprised by Norwegian's order for two additional Breakaway-Plus ships so far ahead, given their 2018 and 2019 delivery dates, Wells Fargo said the order was 'somewhat expected' and will not materially alter the cruise industry's 3% to 5% capacity growth outlook through 2019.

The brokerage said the per berth price of approximately $259,400 compared to Norwegian Escape at $219,400 and Norwegian Bliss at $216,300 is partly due to the foreign exchange rate at the time of the order—$1.36 to the euro compared to $1.30-$1.31/€ earlier.

A filing disclosed 12-year financing on 80% of the contracted price of the two newbuilds at a fixed rate of 3.92%, above the 2.89% for Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Bliss, but still, Wells Fargo analyst Tim Conder said, well below historical averages.

The brokerage reiterated its 'outperform' (buy) rating for NCLH, adding its believe that Caribbean pricing has reached an inflection point, providing an underpinning for fundamentals and its estimates that Norwegian will turn in a 2014 profit of $2.33 per share, compared to the current consensus estimate of $2.29, rising to $2.71 per share in 2015, compared to the $2.67 consensus.

Norwegian's 2013 profit was $1.41 per share.