Carnival Shares Lifted to Buy on Peer Data and Plan to Return to Service

Cruise operator Carnival is upgraded by HSBC to buy from hold, while its price target is cut to $15.90 from $45.30.
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A HSBC analyst on Monday upgraded Carnival Corp.  (CCL) - Get Report to buy from hold, citing positive peer data and the cruise ship operator's aim for a phased return to service in August.

Shares of the Miami company at last check were 3.5% lower at $13.72.

Analyst Ali Naqvi, who cut his price target from to $15.90 from $45.30, said in a note to clients that "following Carnival’s debt and equity issuance ... the company has enough liquidity to continue operating in the current environment for the next eight months till November 2020.

"However, assuming operations restart from the end of August, the group will still need covenant waivers as they have to generate a minimum level of Ebitda every quarter," the analyst added.

Last week, Carnival said that starting Aug. 1 it plans to resume certain cruises in phases, with a total of eight ships departing from Miami and Port Canaveral, Fla., and Galveston, Texas.

"Read-across from peers suggests the existing customer base still has an affinity for cruising, with pricing only down mid-single digits for 2021," Naqvi said. 

"While this is encouraging, we err on the side of caution and assume that CCL will be closer to the edge on covenants for 2021 and think yields could fall by 22%" from 2019 levels.

The cruise-ship industry has been reeling by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with several vessels reporting multiple outbreaks and deaths aboard ship.  

Rival company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings  (NCLH) - Get Report said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that due to the coronavirus outbreak it did not have enough liquidity to meet its obligations over the next 12 months, calling into doubt whether it can "continue as a going concern."

Norwegian shares were tumbling 6.8% to $11.59, while Royal Caribbean Cruises  (RCL) - Get Report was falling 4.8% to $38.