RCCL hits mark with Q1 earnings

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) turned a $473.7 million net profit in 2013, almost exactly what executives had predicted it would earn at the start of the year, RCCL Chairman Richard Fain said.

Fain called it a "remarkable feat" under the circumstances. "Then, none of us imagined that the industry would be subjected to so much negative coverage," he said.

RCCL earned $18.3 million in 2012, when results were lowered by a $380 million writedown of its investment in Pullmantur, the Spanish cruise subsidiary. In 2011 it had net income of $607.4 million.

Revenue for 2013 was $7.9 billion, up from $7.7 billion the prior year.

The company reported net income of $7 million in the fourth quarter, reversing a $392.8 million loss in Q4 2012; revenue for the quarter rose 2.7% to $1.85 billion.

RCCL is forecasting a 40% improvement in net income for the current year, driven by a 2% to 3% improvement in revenue yields. Booked load factors are up for the second, third and fourth quarters and flat in the first quarter.

Fain said that forward bookings for the upcoming Quantum of the Seas are at a "nice premium" compared with older vessels, and that RCCL's most modern ships, the Oasis and Solstice classes of Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, have sold historically at a 25% premium compared with older vessels.

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