Carnival Shares Slip on Lower Guidance

MIAMI ( TheStreet) -- Shares in Carnival ( CCL) were tumbling Tuesday after the company cut its guidance late Monday.

Minutes after the opening, shares were down $1.85 to $33.47. Carnival closed Monday at $35.32. Shares began the year at $37.25.

Analysts were reducing estimates. Robin Farley of UBS downgraded Carnival to neutral from buy, with a target price of $36, down from $38. The downgrade comes "after bad news has already happened, but our concern is that the worst is not behind Carnival just yet," Farley wrote. "Lower guidance (Monday) means bookings have gotten worse, not better, in the last few weeks.

"We suggest remaining on sidelines in near term until tide turns on Carnival's perception problem," she wrote. "This well-regarded management team will right the ship ... Our downgrade is a change in view of the stock, not a change in view of the company."

Credit Suisse analyst Joel Simkins cut his target price to $32 from $34 and said he prefers Royal Caribbean ( RCL).

"April cruise pricing for RCL over the next 12 months continues to hold steady ( plus 0.5% YoY) based on our channel checks, whereas CCL continues to experience negative pricing (minus 2.7%), due to its exposure to Europe as well as the travails of the Carnival brand," Simkins wrote.

"While management has tried to previously downplay the number of guests impacted by headlines, recent incidents have hurt pricing," he said.

The world's biggest cruise line said it has been forced to reduce pricing, a result of several recent incidents including the February engine-room fire on the Triumph, which left 3,100 passengers with limited food, malfunctioning bathrooms and abundant media coverage.

Reduced pricing led to higher bookings but with lower yields. Carnival is also suffering from increased cancellations as well as higher selling and administrative costs. Carnival now expects full year 2013 earnings to be between $1.45 and $1.65 a share, down from previous guidance of $1.80 to $2.10. It expects full year 2013 net revenue to be 2% to 3% lower than its previous guidance.

Carnival's brands operate 101 ships, with eight new ships scheduled to be delivered between May 2013 and April 2016.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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