Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL Corporation Ltd., “Norwegian” or “the Company”) today reported results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2009.
• EBITDA in the fourth quarter improved to $37.4 million from $6.6 million and to $324.1 million from $228.1 million for the year
• Net Cruise Cost per Capacity Day decreased 14.3% in the fourth quarter and 17.4% for the year
• Net Yield for the quarter and full year decreased 4.2% and 7.7%, respectively
• Fleet renewal complete with the departure of Norwegian Majesty in October 2009
• Market eagerly anticipates delivery of Norwegian Epic in less than four months
Norwegian continued its trend of improved year-over-year EBITDA performance and, despite a challenging operating environment in 2009, EBITDA grew 42% over 2008. “With 2009 posing one of the most challenging operating environments in history, I am extremely pleased that we have produced meaningful EBITDA growth,” said Kevin Sheehan, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “The strategic initiatives revolving around revenue management and optimization, as well as the cost containment measures implemented throughout the year have contributed greatly to overcoming the macroeconomic challenges of this past year and position us well going forward.”
Fourth Quarter Results
EBITDA for the fourth quarter of 2009 improved to $37.4 million versus $6.6 million for the same period of 2008 (a 24% increase on an adjusted basis, to $41.6 million from $33.7 million). The significant improvement in EBITDA was achieved despite an 8.3% decline in Net Revenue in the quarter to $303.5 million in 2009 from $330.9 million in 2008. This decline resulted from a 4.2% decrease in Net Yield and a 4.2% decrease in Capacity Days. The decrease in Net Yield was primarily due to weakness experienced in passenger ticket pricing versus 2008 and was partially offset by an increase in Net Yield from onboard and other revenue. The decrease in Capacity Days resulted from the departures of Norwegian Dream and Norwegian Majesty from the Company’s fleet in November 2008 and October 2009, respectively. Occupancy Percentage for the quarter increased to 106.0% compared to 101.2% in the prior year. Net loss for the quarter narrowed to $39.0 million on revenue of $401.7 million from a net loss of $211.0 million on revenue of $430.9 million in 2008.
Net Cruise Cost per Capacity Day decreased 14.3% in the fourth quarter of 2009 compared to the same period of 2008. The decrease was primarily attributable to an overall reduction in cruise operating expenses as well as lower general and administrative expense. These reductions were partially offset by higher fuel expense with fuel cost per metric ton of $476 in 2009 up from $435 in 2008.
Interest expense, net of capitalized interest, was $37.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, including a write-off of deferred financing fees of $6.7 million in connection with a debt refinancing, compared to $35.1 million in 2008. Other income (expense) decreased to ($0.6) million in 2009 from ($13.1) million in 2008.
Full Year Results
EBITDA for the full year 2009 increased 42% to $324.1 million from $228.1 million in 2008 (a 16% improvement on an adjusted basis to $332.5 million from $286.0 million). The improvement was achieved despite a decline in Net Revenue of 12.4% resulting from a 7.7% decrease in Net Yield and a 5.1% decrease in Capacity Days. The decrease in Net Yield was primarily due to weakness in passenger ticket pricing versus 2008 and was partially offset by an increase in Net Yield from onboard and other revenue. The decrease in Capacity Days resulted from the departures of the Marco Polo, Norwegian Dream and Norwegian Majesty from the Company’s fleet in March 2008, November 2008 and October 2009, respectively. Occupancy Percentage for 2009 increased to 109.4% compared to 106.8% in the prior year. Net income in 2009 was $67.2 million on revenue of $1.9 billion compared to a net loss of ($211.8) million on revenue of $2.1 billion in 2008.
Outlook and Updates
Year over year booking volume continues to be positive and occupancy levels for 2010 are tracking comparable to 2009’s record levels. On a cumulative basis, 2010 pricing on the books is ahead of 2009 and Net Per Diems for passenger ticket revenue on recent booking activity is above prior year levels in all quarters. Additionally, the booking window continues to expand reflecting the increased demand for our product offering. “I see many positive factors that are driving improved cruise demand, all of which reinforce the unmatched value of a cruise vacation, and in particular the freedom and flexibility of a Norwegian Cruise Line Freestyle cruise,” said Sheehan.
The departure of the 17-year old, 1,440-berth Norwegian Majesty marked the final milestone in the evolution of Norwegian’s fleet to one comprised solely of purpose-built, Freestyle Cruising vessels. “We’ve been looking forward to this final step in our fleet renewal program,” said Sheehan. “Norwegian now has an entirely young and modern fleet of vessels designed exclusively with our signature Freestyle Cruising in mind. In addition all eyes are on the upcoming launch of our newest and largest purpose-built Freestyle Cruising ship, Norwegian Epic.”
The Company recently announced a partnership with Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids, to offer family entertainment and programming on board Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Jewel and will feature character meet and greets, interactive game shows, and more. In addition, the three year agreement includes annual Nickelodeon-themed cruises featuring Nickelodeon talent and continuous themed entertainment on board.
In addition to announcing Nickelodeon entertainment on board Norwegian Epic, set to debut in July 2010, the Company also announced a new concept and pricing for the innovative Studio staterooms. These staterooms will be offered to solo travelers without the single supplement that is customary for a single traveler in a double occupancy cabin. The staterooms, with 100 square feet of living space, will also have exclusive access to the Studio Lounge area.
“The offering of the Studios to solo travelers on board Norwegian Epic is just another example of Norwegian’s great tradition of innovation at sea,” said Sheehan. “Now solo travelers can experience all that Norwegian Epic has to offer, from world-class entertainment to an abundance of dining options, without requiring a single supplement. And the private key-card access Studio Lounge will allow Studio guests to meet and mingle in an area designed exclusively for them.”