Carnival: High Fuel Costs to Hurt Rest of Year

Carnival Corp. (CCL) , the world's biggest cruise operator, Monday said higher fuel costs would hurt results for the rest of this year, overshadowing a better-than-expected rise in quarterly earnings.

Carnival — which operates cruise lines under the Holland America (search), Cunard and Princess names— posted earnings for the first quarter ended Feb. 28 of $345 million, or 42 cents a share, up from $203 million, or 25 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts, on average, expected 39 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

But the company forecast second-quarter earnings below Wall Street estimates, and its shares fell 4.7 percent. It forecast earnings for the quarter of 45 cents to 47 cents a share, compared with analysts' average estimate of 49 cents a share.

It maintained its full-year forecast for earnings of $2.70 a share, compared with analysts' consensus estimate of $2.81 a share.

Shares fell $2.60 to $52.24 on the New York Stock Exchange (search).

Revenue in the first quarter, in what is typically the industry's strongest booking season, rose 21 percent to $2.4 billion.

Net revenue yields, a key measure of ticket prices and occupancy that excludes travel agent commissions and air fares, rose 7.2 percent.

Carnival, whose 77 ships sail Caribbean, European and Pacific waters, in January canceled a 3-month, round-the-world cruise on its Aurora liner after engine failure stranded 1,400 passengers in a southern English port for 11 days.

Carnival, which said it had abandoned hope of fixing the Aurora liner in time for the trip, said the fiasco would cost it about 22.8 million pounds ($42.6 million), reducing first-quarter earnings by 4 cents per share. The company also recorded a 1-cent per share gain from a litigation settlement.

Looking ahead, Carnival expects net revenue yields for the last nine months of 2005 to grow 5 percent to 6 percent, up from its previous forecast of 4 percent to 6 percent, on a capacity increase of 6.7 percent.

It expects sescond-quarter net revenue yields to rise 6 to 7 percent.