If you've waited for a better entry point in shares of Carnival (CCL) , that ship has sailed. Shares of the cruise-ship operator are rising as high as 4.45% Tuesday, reaching a session high of $48.54 after the company reported third-quarter results that beat estimates on both the top and bottom lines.
Despite the increase in share price, it would be a mistake to take profits now. Carnival shares, which currently trade at around $48, have a consensus buy rating and an average analyst 12-month price target of $56.18, which suggests almost a 17% premium from current levels. And if the stock were to reach its high target of $62 per share, the implied gain would be almost 30%.
The reason for the confidence? Not only has Carnival beaten analysts' earnings-per-share estimates in 10 straight quarters, the Miami-based company is projected to grow earnings at an average annual rate of 16% in the next five years. And Carnival's projected growth rate comes after the company already grew earnings close to 24% last year.
Despite the company's impressive growth projections and growth history, the stock trades at a reasonable high multiple. Based on fiscal 2017 estimates of $8.99 per share, Carnival shares are priced at just five times next year's earnings, which is about 12 points below the S&P 500 (SPX) index. What's more, assuming Carnival earns $8.99 per share, this would translates to 10% year-over-year earnings growth, or more than twice the S&P 500 index.
And here's the thing: Analysts forecast the company's growth rate to average 16% annually for the next five years. This means Carnival's earnings are projected to accelerate.
In other words, investors can still own a high-growth stock at a reasonable price with minimal risk. Combined with a 35-cent quarterly dividend that yields 3.00% annually, or about one percentage point above the S&P 500 index, Carnival shares should cruise to new highs in the next 12 to 18 months.
On a related note, my colleague Gary Morrow of Real Money Pro (TheStreet's premium site for active traders and investment professionals) likes the current technical set-up for travel site Expedia (EXPE) . Click here to see his analysis.