Carnival Corporation & plc  announced non-GAAP net income of $35 million, or $0.04 diluted EPS, for the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to non-GAAP net income for the fourth quarter of 2012 of $111 million, or $0.14 per share.

For the fourth quarter of 2013, U.S. GAAP net income, which included net unrealized gains on fuel derivatives of $31 million, was $66 million, or $0.08 diluted EPS.

For the fourth quarter of 2012, U.S. GAAP net income was $93 million, or $0.12 diluted EPS. Revenues for the fourth quarter of 2013 were $3.7 billion compared to $3.6 billion for the prior year.

Non-GAAP net income for the full year 2013 was $1.2 billion, or $1.58 diluted EPS, compared to non-GAAP net income of $1.5 billion, or $1.94 diluted EPS, for the prior year. 

Full year 2013 U.S. GAAP net income was $1.1 billion, or $1.39 diluted EPS compared to $1.3 billion, or $1.67 per share for the prior year. Revenues for the full year 2013 were $15.5 billion compared to $15.4 billion for the prior year.

Carnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted that fourth quarter earnings on a non-GAAP basis were better than anticipated in the company's September guidance due primarily to better than expected cruise ticket prices and onboard spending for Carnival Cruise Lines.

Donald added, "Accelerated progress in Carnival Cruise Lines' brand recovery had a positive impact on fourth quarter results. A steady stream of innovative product initiatives, the launch of a nationwide marketing campaign and travel agent outreach program, as well as an industry-leading vacation guarantee fueled the brand's improvement." 

Key metrics for the fourth quarter 2013 compared to the prior year were as follows:

  • On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") decreased 2.1 percent for 4Q 2013, which was better than the company's September guidance, down 3.0 to 4.0 percent. Gross revenue yields decreased 0.9 percent in current dollars.

  • Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD increased 6.5 percent in constant dollars, driven by higher advertising spend. Costs were higher than September guidance, up 3.5 to 4.5 percent due primarily to the timing of expenses. Gross cruise costs including fuel per ALBD in current dollars increased 1.6 percent.     
  • Fuel prices declined 6.3 percent to $671 per metric ton for 4Q 2013 from $716 per metric ton in 4Q 2012 and were better than the September guidance of $687 per metric ton.

Commenting on full year 2013, Donald stated, "Even in a challenging year, our company continued to produce strong cash from operations approaching $3 billion, funding our capital commitments and returning value to shareholders through regular dividend distributions of $775 million and share repurchases of $100 million."  

Donald added that the company also made significant strides on important strategic initiatives including the continued enhancement of its fleet with the debut of Princess Cruises' 3,500-passenger Royal Princess and AIDA Cruises' 2,200-passenger AIDAstella.  In addition, the company announced an order for a Seabourn vessel expected in 2016 to replace the sale of the three original Seabourn ships, which will exit the fleet during 2014 and 2015. Furthermore, the company announced the retirement of an 800-passenger Costa Cruises vessel.

Donald further commented that the company's flagship brand Carnival Cruise Lines also undertook a number of strategic initiatives. The brand implemented a major travel agent outreach program, Carnival Conversations, a series of roadshows reaching thousands of agents across the country to better align with travel partners. In addition, the brand launched a new advertising campaign "Moments That Matter," featuring the memorable vacation moments experienced every day by millions of guests as captured through their own images. The "Great Vacation Guarantee," a one-of-a-kind hassle free vacation guarantee was also introduced.  

Additionally, the company increased efficiency fleetwide, achieving an additional five percent reduction in fuel consumption per unit this year, bringing the cumulative reduction to 23 percent since 2005.

The company also furthered its environmental efforts through the successful testing of new "scrubber" technology and plans to install exhaust-gas cleaning scrubbers throughout the fleet. Over the next few years, the company will further refine both the scrubber design and installation process.  In addition to exceeding stricter air emission standards, this technology will help mitigate higher fuel costs.   

The company also realized major milestones in the emerging Asian cruise region this year by doubling its presence in China, as well as launching its first season of cruises originating from Japan. In addition, the company opened ten sales offices throughout Asia to support its continued expansion plans in this important emerging market.

Full Year 2014 Outlook 
At this time, cumulative advance bookings for 2014 are behind the prior year at prices in line with prior year levels. Since September, booking volumes for the first three quarters of 2014 are running well ahead of last year's levels at lower prices.

Donald noted, "We are catching up on booking volumes and gaining momentum as we enter 2014. We believe the compelling value we have in the marketplace will continue to stimulate strong demand leading to a solid wave period. We continue to expect revenue yields to turn positive in the second half of 2014 compared to the prior year."

Based on current booking trends, the company forecasts full year 2014 net revenue yields, on a constant dollar basis, to be down slightly compared to the prior year (in line with the prior year on a current dollar basis). First quarter revenue yields (constant dollars) are expected to decline 3 to 4 percent compared to the prior year and improve during the remainder of 2014 based on a recovery in ticket prices.

The company expects net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for full year 2014 to be slightly higher than the prior year on a constant dollar basis. Taking the above factors into consideration, the company forecasts full year 2014 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $1.40 to $1.80, compared to 2013 non-GAAP diluted earnings of $1.58 per share.

Looking forward, Donald stated, "With over 100 ships and more than 10 million guests we have a scale advantage that cannot be replicated in this industry. We are aggressively seeking opportunities to leverage that scale to drive top line improvement and gain cost efficiencies.  To support that effort, we have realigned our leadership team and processes to achieve greater collaboration and cooperation.  We have heightened our focus on the guest experience and further exceeding guest expectations. As 2014 progresses, we will commence a number of strategic initiatives designed to fuel our earnings power, drive cash flow and improve return on invested capital over time."

First Quarter 2014 Outlook 
First quarter constant dollar net revenue yields are expected to decrease 3 to 4 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD for the first quarter are expected to be 4.5 to 5.5 percent higher on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year mostly due to higher advertising costs.

Based on the above factors, the company expects non-GAAP diluted losses for the first quarter 2014 to be in the range of $(0.07) to $(0.11) per share versus 2013 non-GAAP earnings of $0.09 per share.