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Carnival Posts Jump in Profit

Carnival (CCL - Get Report) and Carnival PLC (CUK) posted a rise in quarterly profit and revenue Thursday.

The company, which trades under two tickers as the result of Carnival's purchase of P&O Princess in April of 2003, reported fourth-quarter net income of $205 million, or 26 cents a share. Earnings missed Wall Street estimates by a penny, but came in 7% higher than the $191 million it had a year ago.

"This year has been the most exciting in the company's history. We emerge from 2003 a much different and stronger company than when we began this year, despite it being one of the more challenging years of the leisure industry," said Micky Arison, chairman and chief executive of the combined Carnival companies.

For fiscal 2003, Carnival said net income came in at $1.19 billion, or $1.66 a share, topping the $1.60 a share expected by analysts and up 18% from the $1.02 billion, or $1.73 a share, booked in fiscal 2002. Results for both the fourth quarter and fiscal year were in line with company estimates.

Fourth-quarter revenue came in at $1.82 billion, up 75% from the year-ago quarter's $1.04 billion, due primarily to Carnival's purchase of P&O Princess. For the full year, revenue came in at $6.72 billion, up 53.4% from $4.38 billion in fiscal 2002.

Going forward, Carnival said that first-quarter earnings would come in between 17 cents and 20 cents a share, which is lower than the current Wall Street estimate of 23 cents a share. The company said that it is comfortable with earnings estimates for 2004.

Carnival was up 17 cents, or 0.5%, at $37.94, while Carnival PLC was up 59 cents, or 1.5%, at $39.10.

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