Casinos & Hotels

Why Analysts Are High on Carnival

Lower fuel costs and increased bookings led to a tripling of earnings at Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) for its first fiscal quarter of 2016. The operator of Princess, Cunard, and Holland America, as well as Carnival Cruise Lines, also narrowed its fiscal year guidance citing higher bookings and prices for the rest of the year.

Then Saturday morning, the company announced that it has finalized contracts for five new cruise ships with Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. Two will be deployed in China for Costa Asia, two will go to Princess Cruises and one is targeted for P&O Cruises Australia. Deliveries of the new ships are expected in 2019 and 2020.

The new ships for both Costa Asia and P&O Cruises Australia are expected to carry 4,200 passengers and the two ships for Princess Cruises will have a capacity of 3,560 passengers apiece.

Carnival also said last week that it has reached agreement with Cuba to allow the company’s ships to visit the country for the first time in more than 50 years. The Cuban stops will begin on May 1.

Analysts were unanimous in their reaction to the earnings report, raising Carnival’s price target both for the shares traded in New York and London:

  • Barclays raised its price target from $57 to $58 with an Equal Weight rating.
  • Goldman Sachs boosted its price target from $52.50 to $53.50.
  • Natixis raised its price target from 4200p to 4300p and has a Buy rating on the stock.
  • Stifel lifted its price target from $64 to $67 with a Buy rating.
  • SunTrust Robinson raised its price target from $59 to $60 and also has a Buy rating on the stock.

In New York, shares closed at $52.75 on Friday, down less than 0.1% for the day, in a 52-week range of $40.52 to $55.77. The consensus price target on the shares is $60.50 but that may not include recent changes.

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