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Carnival forecasts lower profit as costs bite, shares drop 11%

Carnival forecasts lower profit as costs bite, shares drop 11% © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Carnival cruise ship is docked, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Long Beach, California, U.S., April 7, 2021. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

By Ananya Mariam Rajesh and Juveria Tabassum

(Reuters) -Cruise operator Carnival (NYSE:) on Monday forecast third-quarter profit largely below estimates as rising marketing and labor costs eat into gains from higher ticket prices and strong demand. The company’s shares, which have surged nearly 80% in the past two months on resurgent demand for cruises, dropped 11%.

Carnival has increased marketing spend to attract new customers and gain an edge over its competitors even as it faces elevated labor costs as it adds staff to manage higher occupancy levels and battles higher fuel prices.

Chief Financial Officer David Bernstein said a slower-than-expected drop in inflation with respect to port expenses, freight, crew travel has pushed the company to raise its cost outlook.

Still, Carnival lowered its annual loss forecast banking on higher ticket prices and U.S. customers including the younger population shelling out money on novel services such as cruise travel even as they cut spending on non-essential goods.

M Science analyst Michael Erstad said the company’s forecast suggests that the robust demand trend would continue, while adding that Monday’s share performance, in part, reflected the higher cost outlook.

Peers Norwegian Cruise Line (NYSE:) Holdings drops as much as 6.4% while Royal Caribbean (NYSE:) Group sheds as much as 4.4%.

Carnival’s cash from operations and adjusted free cash flows were positive in the second quarter of 2023, and it expects the trend to continue during the second half of the year.

The mid-point of the company’s third-quarter adjusted profit per share forecast of 70 cents to 77 cents, was below analysts’ average estimate of 76 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Carnival now expects adjusted annual loss per share between 8 cents and 20 cents, compared with its earlier forecast of a loss per share of 28 cents to 44 cents.

The company beat second-quarter revenue estimates and posted a smaller-than-expected loss.

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