Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL Corporation Ltd., "Norwegian" or "the Company") today reported results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2010.
Net Cruise Cost for the period decreased 3.5% to $261.6 million from $271.2 million in the prior year and increased 2.7% on a per Capacity Day basis. Net Cruise Cost for 2010 includes an increase in fuel expense due to higher average fuel prices and increased marketing. Average fuel cost per metric ton for the period climbed to $488 in 2010 from $298 in 2009. Excluding fuel, Net Cruise Cost per Capacity Day decreased 4.4%.
"I am very pleased that after the year of suppressed pricing we experienced in 2009, we were able to start the new year strong and demonstrate solid top-line growth," said Kevin Sheehan, chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. "The combination of top-line growth and the continuing benefit from the cost containment initiatives implemented over the last two years, will continue to be the catalyst for improved results," said Sheehan.
Interest expense, net of capitalized interest, increased to $35.8 million in the quarter compared to $25.4 million in 2009 due to higher average interest rates in the period. Other income (expense) decreased to $(0.6) million in 2010 versus $17.3 million in 2009 mainly due to the aforementioned variance in foreign currency translation.
Outlook and Updates
Booking volume continues to improve versus prior year and quarterly Occupancy Percentages are trending consistent with last year. 2010 pricing and Net Per Diems for the remainder of the year are expected to surpass 2009 levels, with the largest improvement coming from itineraries for premium destinations. The booking window continues to expand over prior year levels and is among the highest in years. "As the economy continues to strengthen so will the demand for our product offering which will further drive strong top-line growth and result in continuing improvement in our bottom-line performance," said Sheehan.
Progress on Norwegian Epic, the Company's largest and most innovative Freestyle Cruising vessel to date, continues on schedule for a July debut. On April 13, the Company released exciting news about some of Epic's christening festivities in New York City over the Fourth of July weekend. Norwegian Epic will be the host venue for the 34th Annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks event and will be featured during the hour-long national broadcast of the fireworks on NBC-TV. Other recent announcements have included details of Epic's spa, at more than 31,000 square feet the largest spa at sea, and descriptions of her varied dining options, 21 in total.
The Company also recently announced that it is investing over $20 million to improve its industry-first private island, Great Stirrup Cay. Additions underway to enhance the guest experience include a new entrance channel for tenders and an arrival area with a welcome pavilion. Phase two of the project will include the addition of facilities, attractions and activities focusing on fun, freedom and flexibility including new dining and bar areas, private beachfront cabanas, a floating Aqua park and kayak tours along man-made rivers throughout the island.
Terminology and Non-GAAP Financial Measures
Berths are determined based on double occupancy per cabin even though many cabins can accommodate three or more passengers.
Capacity Days represents double occupancy per cabin multiplied by the number of cruise days for the period.
Passenger Cruise Days represents the number of passengers carried for the period, multiplied by the number of days in their respective cruises.
Occupancy Percentage represents the ratio of Passenger Cruise Days to Capacity Days. A percentage in excess of 100% indicates that three or more passengers occupied some cabins.
Gross Yield represents total revenue per Capacity Day.
Net Revenue represents total revenue less commissions, transportation and other expense and onboard and other expense.
Net Yield represents Net Revenue per Capacity Day.
Net Per Diem represents Net Revenue per Passenger Cruise Day.
Gross Cruise Cost represents the sum of total cruise operating expense and marketing, general and administrative expense.
Net Cruise Cost represents Gross Cruise Cost less commissions, transportation and other expense and onboard and other expense.
Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel represents Net Cruise Cost less fuel expense.
To supplement the Company's consolidated financial statements presented in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the U.S., the Company also provides certain non-GAAP financial measures, including EBITDA, Net Revenue, Net Yield, and Net Cruise Cost.
We define EBITDA as earnings before interest, other income (expense) including taxes, impairment loss, and depreciation and amortization and is used by management to measure operating performance of the business. Management believes EBITDA, when considered along with other performance measures, is a useful measure as it reflects certain operating drivers of the Company's business, such as sales growth, operating costs, marketing, general and administrative expense and other operating income and expense. EBITDA is also one of the measures used by the Company to calculate incentive compensation for management-level employees. While EBITDA is not a recognized measure under GAAP, management uses this financial measure to evaluate and forecast the Company's business performance. This non-GAAP financial measure has certain material limitations, including:
* it does not include net interest expense. As the Company has borrowed money for general corporate purposes, interest expense is a necessary element of its costs and ability to generate profits and cash flows; and
* it does not include depreciation and amortization expense. As the Company uses capital assets, depreciation and amortization are necessary elements of its costs and ability to generate profits and cash flows.
Management compensates for these limitations by using EBITDA as only one of several measures for evaluating the Company's business performance. In addition, capital expenditures, which impact depreciation and amortization, interest expense and income tax expense, are reviewed separately by management. Management believes EBITDA can provide a more complete understanding of the underlying operating results and trends and an enhanced overall understanding of the Company's financial performance and prospects for the future. EBITDA is not intended to be a measure of liquidity or cash flows from operations or measures comparable to net income as it does not take into account certain requirements such as capital expenditures and related depreciation, principal and interest payments and tax payments.
We define Adjusted EBITDA as EBITDA with supplemental adjustments. Each adjustment and the reasons we consider them appropriate for supplemental analysis should be evaluated. In evaluating Adjusted EBITDA, be aware that in the future we may incur expenses similar to the adjustments in this presentation. Our presentation of Adjusted EBITDA should not be construed as an inference that our future results will be unaffected by unusual or non-recurring items. Adjusted EBITDA is not intended to be a measure of liquidity or cash flows from operations or measures comparable to net income as it does not take into account certain requirements such as capital expenditures and related depreciation, principal and interest payments and tax payments, and it is subject to certain additional adjustments. Our use of Adjusted EBITDA may not be comparable to other companies within our industry.
We use certain non-GAAP financial measures, such as Net Revenue, Net Yield and Net Cruise Cost to enable us to analyze our performance. We utilize Net Revenue and Net Yield to manage our business on a day-to-day basis and believe that they are the most relevant measures of our revenue performance because they reflect the revenue earned by us net of significant variable costs and are commonly used in the cruise industry to measure revenue performance. In measuring our ability to control costs in a manner that positively impacts net income, we believe changes in Net Cruise Cost and Net Cruise Cost Excluding Fuel to be the most relevant indicators of our performance and are commonly used in the cruise industry as a measurement of costs. Accordingly, we do not believe that reconciling information for such projected figures would be meaningful. Our use of non-GAAP financial measures may not be comparable to other companies within our industry.