Carnival shares shed 23% on ballooning costs, dragging cruise stocks lower

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The brand new Carnival Cruise Line ship Mardi Gras, docked at Port Canaveral, Florida, on July 30, 2021.
Joe Burbank | Orlando Sentinel | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

Shares of Carnival fell below their pandemic lows Friday after the cruising company posted third-quarter earnings that revealed higher costs associated with inflation, supply chain disruptions and the maintenance of health and safety protocols.

Shares of Carnival shed 23% during the session. The stock closed at a new 52-week low of $7.03, below its pandemic plunge lows of April 2020, when shares traded around $7.80 intraday.

Friday’s losses knock about $2.5 billion off Carnival’s market value. Shares of Norwegian and Royal Caribbean also fell Friday, down 18% and 13%, respectively.

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Carnival reported adjusted net losses of $770 million, or 65 cents per share, on $4.3 billion in revenue. Operating costs and expenses totaled $3.4 billion during the quarter, compared with costs of $1.6 billion in the third quarter 2021.

Carnival said bookings improved 15 percentage points from the prior quarter to 84%. That compares with 54% occupancy during the same period in 2021. Despite governments relaxation of pandemic-era protocols in both the U.S. and, more recently, Canada, the company is projecting fourth-quarter bookings below 2019 levels — at lower prices.

Cruise companies across the board are struggling with massive debts taken on during Covid lockdowns, made more expensive by rising interest rates. Carnival on Friday morning reported $1 billion in principal payments so far for 2022 and a total of $9 billion due by 2025.

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