Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced record net income for the third quarter 2008 of $411.9 million, or $1.92 per share, compared to net income of $395.0 million, or $1.84 per share, in 2007. This improvement was due primarily to increased capacity, higher yields, and lower net cruise costs, partially offset by higher fuel prices. These figures also include the receipt of a legal settlement of $17.6 million. Higher fuel prices increased costs by $65.1 million, or $0.30 per share. While fuel costs per metric ton increased 46% versus 2007, they were $48 per metric ton, or $0.07 per share lower than previous guidance. Selling, general and administrative expenses were $17.2 million, or $0.08 per share better than previous guidance due primarily to timing and management's focus on cost containment.
The company noted that new bookings slowed considerably during the month of September, but have leveled off over the last couple of weeks. "As we have seen during other challenging periods, our customers are delaying their further out purchase decisions," said Brian J. Rice, executive vice president and chief financial officer. "It is too early to respond to this atmosphere in a systematic way, but we have attracted short term volume in the traditionally weak fourth quarter using discounts. Had the value of the U.S. dollar not strengthened, we would be forecasting flat yields in the fourth quarter."
In summarizing the company's third quarter 2008 results and outlook Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Riochard Fain added: "The company's performance, during a period of such economic uncertainty and unprecedented market volatility, is a testament to our business model. Nonetheless, we are taking proactive steps to respond to these challenges. Our strong brand positioning, a management team focused on cost improvement and the most innovative fleet in the industry provide a strong and stable platform from which to weather a difficult 2009 and to capture the eventual benefit of a rebounding economy and a more optimistic consumer."