Carnival Sales Miss on Caribbean Pricing Pressure

Carnival Corp, the world's largest cruise operator, reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales, hurt by pricing pressure in the Caribbean, its largest market, and a stronger dollar.

The company's shares were slightly up at $44.60 in volatile trading, after falling about 2 percent in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Carnival said it expected net revenue yields, which combine ticket sales and money spent onboard, to be flat in the first quarter or rise by up to 1 percent on a constant-currency basis as pricing pressures in the Caribbean continue.

This is expected to restrict growth in net revenue yields to 2 percent in the year ending November 2015, the company said.

This forecast is below investors' expectations, Stifel Nicolaus analysts wrote in a note.

Net revenue yields rose 2.8 percent on a constant-currency basis in the fourth quarter ended Nov. 30.

Carnival has been facing intense competition in the Caribbean, with rivals slashing prices to attract customers. Operators such as Europe-based MSC Cruises has been offering 7-night cruises in the Caribbean for as low as $199.

Carnival reported a loss of $102 million, or 13 cents per share, compared with a profit of $66 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier, as it took a $277 million charge related to fuel derivatives and $35 million in other charges.

Excluding items, the company earned 27 cents per share.

Revenue rose 1.6 percent to $3.72 billion.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 20 cents per share and revenue of $3.81 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Carnival forecast a profit of 7-11 cents per share for the first quarter, largely in line with average analyst estimate of 10 cents. (Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey)