Carnival Weathers Impacts From Hurricanes Despite Caribbean Port Closures

By Costas Paris Features Dow Jones Newswires

Carnival Corp. said Tuesday five popular Caribbean destinations remain closed in the wake of recent hurricanes but the world's biggest cruise operator appears to have weathered the financial impacts from the storms.

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A company spokeswoman said there are no sailings by Carnival or its other brands to the Virgin Islands port of St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Tortola, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Grand Turk Island. Carnival calls on a total of 40 ports in the Caribbean.

Carnival said closures from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria will dent per-share earnings between 10 cents and 12 cents in its fiscal fourth quarter.

"We have not experienced lots of cancellations. Cancellations are running at around 1%," said Carnival Chief Executive Arnold Donald in a conference call on the company's third-quarter earnings. He added that the impacted destinations should be up and running before the end of the year.

Dozens of cruises were canceled, diverted or delayed due to the recent spate of hurricanes. But the cruise sector, compared with others in the shipping industry, is growing, with bookings well into next year. And shipyards that specialize in building cruise liners are fully booked until around 2025.

Carnival shares recently rose more than 3% as the company reported strong bookings and higher ticket prices in the quarter ended Aug. 31. In its third quarter, Carnival's adjusted earnings per share came in at $2.29, above the $2.20 expected by analysts.

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The company expects to earn $3.64 to $3.70 on an adjusted per-share basis this year, up from a prior estimate of $3.60 to $3.70. It said bookings for the first half of 2018 are ahead of this year, both in terms of price and occupancy.

While analysts have raised concerns about bookings from China tightening travel restrictions in the Korean Peninsula, Mr. Donald said Tuesday the company is "planning to go as normal" with cruise itineraries. Carnival said it could plan more domestic sailings in China and some extended sailings to Southeast Asia, including Thailand and Vietnam, to serve customers.

Write to Costas Paris at costas.paris@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 26, 2017 15:14 ET (19:14 GMT)