Skift Take

After a whopping 20 percent drop in second quarter earnings, Carnival is facing the realization that while itineraries to Cuba might have warranted higher-priced tickets, the political volatility of the Trump administration means they were not a safe bet.

Carnival Corporation reported its second-quarter earnings on Thursday, citing a 19.6 percent drop in income during the period and a reduced outlook owed in part to the Trump administration’s Cuba cruise ban as well as economic uncertainty in Europe.

Profits in the second quarter were $451 million, down from $561 million in the same period last year. The company also lowered its earnings guidance for the year from $4.35 to $4.55 per share to $4.25 to $4.35. Carnival shares fell 7.7 percent at the news on Thursday and continued to decline in early trading on Friday.

The reason for the guidance reduction was partly due to the Trump administration’s decision to ban cruises to Cuba announced in early June. CEO Arnold Donald said the unexpected nature of the decision created obstacles for the company.

“While the regulatory change was disappointing as these sailings had experienced strong demand and were well booked and significant yield premiums, we were able to adjust our itineraries to provide our guests with attractive alternative vacation experiences utilizing the six destination ports that we own and operate in the Caribbean,” said Donald. “However the suddenness of the regulatory change is disruptive.”

The change impacted earnings to the tune of $0.04 to $0.06 per share, as Carnival had to scramble to reaccommodate guests. Cuban itineraries had been lucrative for the company, but at the time being, they are “off the table” for the foreseeable future, said Donald.

Asked about the policy, chairman Micky Arison declined to provide specifics of his meetings with Washington officials on the issue but remarked he was “definitely surprised of the outcome.”

In Europe it was not Brexit that caused trouble for the company but uncertainty in Germany, France, and Italy. The “heightened geopolitical and macroeconomic headwinds,” as Donald put it, caused weaker demand in some places and lowered prices. He mentioned the Yellow Vest movement in France, as well as a recession in Italy, as contributing factors. In the UK the market was said to have improved despite Brexit.

Disruptions also played a factor in the adjusted guidance, as the Carnival Vista has had to cancel several itineraries for repairs, which will cost $0.08 to $0.10 per share.

While the profit drop was brutal, the results were better than Wall Street’s expectations.


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Tags: carnival, carnival corporation, cruise, cuba, earnings

Photo credit: The Carnival Spirit sits in port in Sydney. Ed Dunens / Flickr

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