Why Goldman Sachs Is More Bullish on Carnival

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Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) was featured in Wednesday’s top analyst upgrades and downgrades as Goldman Sachs raised its rating on the shares to Buy from Neutral. While the $65 price target was raised by $2, investors should consider that this is not even that aggressive compared to the consensus group.

Though Carnival is up 15% and outpacing the S&P 500, it actually lags rivals Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. This was after trading lower on earnings in December.

Stephen Grambling of Goldman Sachs sees three key factors for upside in Carnival. The first is rising capacity, with customers spending more money on newer ships. A second issue is that worries about European traffic seem to be overblown, at least as far as having an impact on Carnival’s bottom line.

The third issue is that Carnival has set the bar low after its last round of guidance. Grambling believes that this low bar is likely to lead to other analysts raising estimates, targets or ratings in the coming months as the reports come in.

Additional positives are cheap historical valuation references for the shares, lower leverage and less economic sensitivity that more premium lines with better risk-reward characteristics. Grambling sees the potential downside in a recession scenario actually outweighed by the potential upside of a sustained macroeconomic scenario.

Carnival closed at $55.26 on Tuesday and was up about 2% at $56.32 midday Wednesday. Its consensus analyst target price is $66.37, and it has a 52-week trading range of $45.64 to $69.11.

Note that Carnival was recently named as one of the 24/7 Wall St. top stocks for retirees, considering that it’s the largest cruise line in the world and given the demographics of adults who take cruises. It has a 3.6% dividend yield to attract income investors, which is what retirees need as supplemental income.

Its shares are now up close to 12% for 2019, and the market cap is $39 billion.

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