Carnival's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Carnival (CCL)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

March 09, 2012 10:00 am ET


Howard S. Frank - Vice Chairman, Chief Operating Officer and Member of Executive Committee

Micky M. Arison - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of Executive Committee, Chairman of Carnival Plc. and Chief Executive Officer of Carnival Plc.

David Bernstein - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

Beth Roberts - Vice President of Investor Relations


Felicia R. Hendrix - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Robin M. Farley - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Steven E. Kent - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Harry Curtis - Nomura Securities Co. Ltd., Research Division

Gregory R. Badishkanian - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Timothy A. Conder - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Steven M. Wieczynski - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc., Research Division

Assia Georgieva

Jaime M. Katz - Morningstar Inc., Research Division

Jamie Rollo - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Edward Stanford - Oriel Securities Ltd., Research Division

Ian Rennardson - Jefferies & Company, Inc., Research Division

David Liebowitz - Horizon Kinetics LLC

Unknown Analyst



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the First Quarter 2012 Earnings Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded Friday, March 9, 2012. I would now like to turn the conference over to Mr. Howard Frank, Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer. Please go ahead.

Howard S. Frank

Good morning, everyone. This is Howard Frank. With me this morning is Micky Arison, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; David Bernstein, our Senior Vice President of Finance and our Chief Financial Officer; and Beth Roberts, our Senior -- our Vice President and -- what are you -- what do you do again? Investor Relations Officer.

Before David's comments, which we typically start the call with, Micky would like to make a few comments first. Micky?

Micky M. Arison

Good morning, everybody, and thank you for joining us today. As you can imagine, this has been a most difficult and challenging time for our corporation. We've all been deeply saddened by the Costa Concordia accident, and our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers, crew and family of those who were lost in this tragic accident. We are grateful to the Italian authorities and rescue workers who acted heroically following the accident and who continue to assist in the recovery process. We would also like to express our deepest appreciation to the local population of the island of Giglio and thank them for their generosity to those in need.

As to the Costa Concordia crew, I'd like to thank and recognize them for their tireless efforts to evacuate more than 4,000 passengers and crew from the ship that night. Not enough can be said about the work that the crew did to help our guests in the most challenging of conditions.

Before we walk through the financial impact to Costa Cruises and Carnival Corporation, I'd like to offer a couple of observations based on my experience. First, that the cruise industry remains incredibly safe and maintains one of the best safety records of any form of recreational travel in the world. The safety and security of our guests are job one, and we learn from everything we can from this incident and apply all lessons learned.

Thank you. And David will take you through the numbers. David?

David Bernstein

Thank you, Micky. Before I begin, please note that some of our remarks on this call will be forward-looking. I will refer you to the cautionary statement in today's press release. Also, all of my references to revenue and cost metrics will be in local currencies, unless otherwise noted, as this is a more useful measure of business trends.

Our non-GAAP EPS for the first quarter was $0.02. The first quarter came in $0.06 below the midpoint of our December guidance. The $0.06 shortfall from our December guidance was driven by $0.04 from the Costa Concordia incident expenses not covered by insurance and $0.04 from the impairment charge related to the Costa Allegra. All the other items netted out to a favorable $0.02 per share as higher-than-expected revenue yields and cost savings, including lower advertising expenses, more than offset $0.06 of higher fuel prices.

Now let's look at our first quarter operating results versus the prior year. Our capacity increased almost 4%. Our North American brands grew over 4%, while our Europe, Australia and Asia brands or, as we call them, our EAA brands, grew almost 3%. Our total net revenue yields increased 2.9% in the first quarter, with net ticket revenue yields up 2.6% and net on board and other revenue yields up 3.7%.

With respect to our net ticket yields, the North American brands were up almost 5% as yields rebounded in the Caribbean, benefiting from the continuing recovery in the U.S. economy after absorbing a significant capacity increase last year. During the first quarter, the Caribbean represented 2/3 of the North American brands' capacity.

Our EAA brands' net ticket yields were in line with the prior year, with their ships cruising in numerous regions throughout the world during the first quarter. For net on board and other yields, the 3.7% increase was also driven by our North American brands. While consistent with our expectations, our EAA brands were down, principally due to the challenging economic environment in Europe.

On the cost side, net cruise costs excluding fuel per available lower berth day were up over 6% versus the prior year. More than 1/2 the increase was driven by the Costa Concordia incident expenses not covered by insurance and the impairment charge related to the Costa Allegra. The remaining increase was due to the higher number of dry-dock days and related costs in the first quarter, which we discussed on the December call.

As a result of our ongoing efforts to reduce fuel usage, our consumption per ALBD declined 2.5% this quarter, continuing our multiple-year savings trend. Fuel prices in the quarter were up 30%, which cost us an additional $0.18 per share.

In summary, the first quarter non-GAAP EPS was $0.17 lower than 2011 earnings of $0.19 per share as increased yields were more than offset by higher dry-dock costs, higher fuel prices, the Costa Concordia incident expenses and the Costa Allegra impairment charge.

Excluded from our non-GAAP EPS but included in our GAAP loss per share were impairment charges of $173 million or $0.22 per share, relating to all of Ibero's goodwill and 60% of their trademarks. We believe it's more meaningful to exclude these non-cash charges from our non-GAAP EPS, given their non-recurring nature and the fact that we believe they are not an indication of our future earnings performance.

As we disclosed since 2010, we have been closely monitoring Ibero's intangibles, given the small amount of headroom in excess of its carrying value. At this time, given the state of Spain's economy, we slowed down the projected pace of Ibero's capacity growth in our discounted cash flow projections that are used to estimate Ibero's fair value, which primarily resulted in the impairment charge.

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