Rising fuel costs dampen Carnival’s profit


CHICAGO — Higher fuel costs dampened cruise operator Carnival Corp.’s second-quarter profit, but the company said Tuesday that its revenue rose and an important performance measure climbed for the first time in nearly two years.

The owner of Carnival, Princess and Holland America cruise lines, Carnival said passengers paid more for their vacations this spring than a year earlier and generally spent more money abroad its ships.

“People are still booking their vacations, and our business has held up quite well,” said Howard Frank, Carnival’s chief operating officer.

But fuel prices climbed 64 percent for the period, compared with a year earlier, and that washed away much of Carnival’s revenue gain.

For the three months that ended May 31, the company recorded net income of $252 million, or 32 cents per share. That’s down 4.5 percent from net income of $264 million, or 33 cents per share, a year earlier.

Carnival’s revenue was higher than a year earlier for the second quarter in a row — climbing more than 8 percent to $3.20 billion for the quarter — but it fell short of forecasts.

Analyst surveyed by Thomson Reuters on average expected Carnival to earn 29 cents per share on revenue of $3.27 billion.

In a sign the cruise industry may be getting a break after months of battering by the dismal economy, Carnival executives said a key performance measure rose for the first time since late 2008. That figure — the ratio of revenue to occupancy — rose 2 percent for the quarter.

Also Tuesday, the Miami company affirmed its forecast that its full-year net income will be between $2.25 per share and $2.35 per share. In 2009, its full-year net income was $2.24 per share.

Carnival said its third-quarter profit will rise but still short of expectations. For the quarter, the company expects to earn between $1.43 and $1.47 per share. Analysts expected a quarterly profit of $1.52 per share. During last year’s third quarter, Carnival earned $1.33 per share.

Carnival shares fell $1.03, or 3 percent, to $33.71 in afternoon trading.