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UBS: Carnival may focus on refurbs rather than new ships

Refurbishments, such as Carnival Destiny's transformation into Carnival Sunshine, may supersede newbuilds, UBS suggests
Carnival Corp. & plc management may be even more conservative in their approach to new capacity than the current two to three ships per year and focus instead on higher return on investment refurbishments, UBS Investment Research said following an analysts briefing on board Carnival Sunshine.

The current building program is only slightly above the replacement rate given that Carnival sells about one ship per year, UBS analyst Robin Farley observed.

She added that while ordering for 2017 is still possible, 'we believe Carnival currently is not working on any new orders, so that no new order announcements for 2017 might well be the case.'

Currently the only ship in the cruise industry orderbook for 2017 is Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Bliss.

About a third of Carnival brand vessels have undergone Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades, an initiative the company announced about 2.5 years ago.

'While there is still opportunity to improve ROIC from the cost side of the business, new management believes the real opportunity is in the top line and ability to recover pricing, with a disciplined approach to new supply,' UBS told investors in a note.