Carnival (NYSE:CCL) has been getting slammed in the press for the last 18 months beginning with the Costa Concordia disaster. There have been so many recent "episodes" that many analysts have questioned whether the company was being sabotaged. And now Jim Cramer is "screaming" sell. Yet the stock remains steady, versus companies like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) which eventually fell 50% on bad news. Since March the shares have underperformed when compared to the major market indices, however there has been no real change over the last year:
There was a "Death Cross" this Spring when the 50 day MA fell below the 200 day MA, yet the price remained relatively flat:
And according to Yahoo, major institutions still own significant chunks of the company (29%):
Top Institutional Holders of Carnival
|Top Mutual Fund Holders|
Cramer is most upset about Carnival's most recent guidance:
At the time, Carnival told us that the incident would ding their earnings per share by 8 to 10 cents in the first half, but it turns out that was way too optimistic. In mid-March, the company cut its full-year guidance from the $2.20 to $2.40 range down to $1.80 to $2.10. And then last month, they lowered their earnings forecast again, taking it down to $1.45 to $1.65.
Here are the latest earnings estimates from Yahoo Finance :
|EPS Trends||Current Qtr.|
|7 Days Ago||0.06||1.40||1.62||2.28|
|30 Days Ago||0.07||1.62||1.97||2.59|
|60 Days Ago||0.07||1.64||1.98||2.62|
|90 Days Ago||0.29||1.74||2.35||2.94|
So why has the stock not plummeted? The short answer is Revenue. It is expected to be up in spite of everything that's happened. If the high estimates are right, it could be up over 1.3 billion dollars next year:
|Revenue Est||Current Qtr.|
|No. of Analysts||12||12||17||17|
|Year Ago Sales||3.54B||4.68B||15.38B||15.48B|
|Sales Growth (year/est)||0.50%||0.50%||0.60%||5.60%|
Things are Changing Radically at Carnival
I admit that I was one of the company's biggest critics last year when Carnival management completely mishandled the Concordia disaster. However they appear to be making significant changes regarding passenger rights, safety, and over-all comfort. Many of the changes were planned before the latest incidents. On the Carnival Magic which sails out of Galveston, Texas there are numerous changes. Loading and unloading passengers has been streamlined. Even though its recent June 2 voyage was completely sold out weeks before departure, passengers arrived and were loaded immediately. And, unbelievably, there were more than enough deck lounge chairs available around the various pools:
And the Spa Balcony Cabins are much prettier than rooms on some of the older boats:
Because of new designs, the ship is able to make the exceptionally choppy Gulf of Mexico seem smoother than the Caribbean Sea. Even going through the eye of a depression with 10 foot swells, which eventually turned out to be Tropical Storm Andrea, the ship did not even rock.
When you can visit beautiful ports like Grand Cayman, and Montego Bay while lounging on the new cushioned wicker furniture, dedicated cruisers tend to forget about those few bad incidents on other boats. Especially since Carnival appears to be making formidable changes.
Carnival shares may take a dip with the new lower guidance, and Cramer's ranting. So if you are considering jumping into this stock, now might be a good time to do it. However all stocks are a gamble, and the company will have a lot of expenses in the next year. But, taking a cruise is one of the cheapest vacations anywhere. So I think there will continue to be a lot of people lining up for these trips. And that translates into a lot of additional revenue for the company. The share price is very near the low target of $32. If it hits the high target of $42, that would be a nice $10 a share gain.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.