NEW YORK -- P&O Princess Cruises, the London-based parent of
Princess Cruises, reported third-quarter profits of $163 million on
revenues of $776 million compared with profits of $150.6 million on
revenues of $778.1 million for the same period in 2000.
But Princess' gains came from the tax man rather than its
operations: pre-tax profits were $171.5 million vs. $175 million
for the period last year. The reason for the difference was that
P&O Princess changed several of its ships from Liberian to
British registry near the end of 2000 and benefitted in 2001 from
the British government's more lenient tax code for shipping
Third-quarter occupancy for the company's North American fleet,
which accounts for 75% of P&O's business, was 99.9%, compared
with 101.6% for the same period in 2000. Net revenue yields were 5%
below the third-quarter 2000 totals.
P&O's chief executive officer, Peter Ratcliffe, said P&O
Princess saw an overall decrease of 8,000 bookings in the two weeks
following the Sept. 11 attacks. P&O had historically averaged a
gain of 12,000 bookings during those weeks, he said.
"The Sept. 11 events clearly had an impact," Ratcliffe said in a
conference call with analysts. "There is no way to gauge the
medium-term impact it will have."
Ratcliffe said promotional rates offered in the wake of the
attacks are stimulating bookings. P&O also is well-positioned
for the fourth quarter. "Cancellations have not been as high as one
might have expected in the circumstances," said Ratcliffe.
But the earnings outlook for 2002 is "uncertain," said
Ratcliffe, and cruising's January to March "Wave" period will be
more important than ever in driving the company's overall
performance in 2002. "The political and economic situation will
determine the success of the Wave period," he said.