Carnival Corporation announced non-GAAP net income of $1.1 billion, or $1.38 diluted EPS for the third quarter of 2013 compared to non-GAAP net income for the third quarter of 2012 of $1.2 billion, or $1.53 diluted EPS.

For the third quarter of 2013, reported U.S. GAAP net income, which included impairments of $203 million partially offset by unrealized gains on fuel derivatives of $64 million, was $934 million, or $1.20 diluted EPS.

For the third quarter of 2012, reported U.S. GAAP net income, which included unrealized gains on fuel derivatives of $136 million, was $1.3 billion, or $1.71 diluted EPS. Revenues for the third quarter of 2013 were $4.7 billion, in line with the prior year.

Third quarter non-GAAP earnings were better than anticipated in the company's June guidance due to lower than expected unit costs, partly due to the timing of advertising expenses.

Carnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted that during the third quarter, the company made significant progress on a number of strategic initiatives to broaden its customer base, spur additional demand and mitigate environmental impacts and higher fuel costs.

"Asia is a key focus of our international expansion. During the third quarter, we opened five additional sales offices in China, following the establishment of a corporate office in Singapore earlier this year," said Donald.  He added that Princess Cruises recently announced plans to homeport Sapphire Princess in China for a four-month season beginning in May 2014, bringing the total to five vessels in the region next year dedicated to guests sourced from Asia.

Earlier this month, the company announced it had received the support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and Transport Canada to implement a leading edge "scrubber" technology designed to reduce air emissions on 32 ships.

"The company has been a partner in the development of the scrubber technology and will take the lead in further refining both the scrubber design and installation process over the next few years. In addition to exceeding stricter air emission standards, this technology will help us mitigate escalating fuel costs," said Donald.

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

  • Third quarter U.S. GAAP net income included $176 million of impairment charges related to two smaller Costa ships which are intended to be laid up or sold, and $27 million of impairment charges related to Ibero trademarks and other items. 

  • On a constant dollar basis, net revenue yields (net revenue per available lower berth day or "ALBD") decreased 3.8 percent for 3Q 2013, which was in line with June guidance of down 3.5 to 4.5 percent. A continued improvement in net revenue yields for Costa  partially offset lower net revenue yields for the North American and Northern European brands in the third quarter. Gross revenue yields decreased 2 percent in current dollars.

  • Excluding fuel and impairments, net cruise costs per ALBD increased 4.6 percent in constant dollars, the majority of which is due to higher pension plan contributions as well as costs associated with the previously announced vessel enhancement initiatives and the timing of dry-dock costs, which was better than June guidance of up 8.5 to 9.5 percent. Gross cruise costs including fuel and impairments per ALBD in current dollars increased 8.5 percent.

  • Fuel prices increased 2.3 percent to $674 per metric ton for 3Q 2013 from $659 per metric ton in 3Q 2012.

  • Fuel consumption per ALBD decreased 5.2 percent in 3Q 2013 compared to the prior year.

Outlook 

At this time, cumulative advance bookings for the remainder of 2013 and the first half of 2014 are behind the prior year at prices in line with prior year levels. Since June, fleetwide booking volumes for the next three quarters, excluding Carnival Cruise Lines, are running in line with the prior year at higher prices. Booking volumes for Carnival Cruise Lines during the same period are running behind the prior year at lower prices.

Donald noted, "During the past few months, Carnival Cruise Lines has seen a steady improvement in brand perception among U.S. consumers based on national market research data." He added that Carnival Cruise Lines continues to undertake a variety of brand building initiatives including a major travel agent outreach program which commenced in June, the introduction of a new vacation guarantee earlier this month and the launch of a new major marketing campaign that debuted yesterday with national TV spots airing on network primetime programming.

The company expects full year 2013 net revenue yields, on a constant dollar basis to be down approximately 3 percent compared to the prior year, toward the lower end of the June guidance range due in part to ongoing geopolitical events in portions of the Eastern Mediterranean region. Excluding fuel and impairments, the company expects full year net cruise costs per ALBD to be higher by 4 percent compared to the prior year on a constant dollar basis, which is at the better end of the June guidance range. In addition, higher fuel prices are expected to reduce full year 2013 earnings by $0.04 per share compared to June guidance.

Taking the above factors into consideration, the company forecasts full year 2013 non-GAAP diluted earnings per share to be in the range of $1.51 to $1.57, the mid-point of which is in line with June guidance.

For the first half of 2014, we presently estimate revenue yields will be down in a range similar to the back half of 2013. For the full year 2014, net cruise costs excluding fuel per ALBD are expected to be up in a range similar to 2013.

"While some of our current challenges and cost pressures will continue well into next year, we have tremendous opportunities to enhance shareholder value over time. I have spent my initial months gaining a much deeper understanding of our people and our operations," said Donald.  "The dedication and enthusiasm of our employees is a great foundation to build upon as we strive to achieve even greater success in consistently exceeding the expectations of our guests. We are investing in gaining an even deeper understanding of what drives consumer vacation decisions and onboard enjoyment. This bodes well for attracting first time cruisers as well as powerfully differentiating our brands relative to others," said Donald.

Fourth Quarter 2013 Outlook

Fourth quarter constant dollar net revenue yields are expected to be down 3 to 4 percent compared to the prior year. Net cruise costs excluding fuel and impairments per ALBD for the fourth quarter are expected to be higher by 3.5 to 4.5 percent on a constant dollar basis compared to the prior year, which is primarily due to increased advertising expenses and costs associated with the previously announced vessel enhancement initiatives.

Based on the above factors, the company expects non-GAAP diluted earnings for the fourth quarter 2013 to be in the range of $(0.03) to $0.03 per share versus 2012 non-GAAP earnings of $0.14 per share.