(Carnival earnings article updated for market reaction and analyst comment)

MIAMI ( TheStreet) -- Carnival Corporation's ( CUK) Lido Deck may not reach a full recovery until the second half of 2010.

Indeed, the Carnival Corporation beat a fourth-quarter Street estimate in its fourth-quarter earnings announced this morning -- but, at the same time, the cruise ship operator guided lower for the first quarter 2010.

What's more, even in beating the Street estimate for the fourth quarter 2009, the earnings per share was well below the 2008 fourth quarter level.

The two faces of the Carnival earnings give a fair approximation of the sailing conditions headed into 2010: a headwind to begin, but a financial tailwind expected by the second half of the coming year.

The mixed sailing conditions also led the markets to a negative reaction: Carnival shares were down a little more than 3% and had already surpassed average daily volume at mid-day.

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