Tourism & Cruises

Norwegian reports strong fourth quarter, 2015, in first full year since Prestige merger

Norwegian Escape is shown during sea trials along the coast of Norway. The ship was added to the fleet in November.
Norwegian Escape is shown during sea trials along the coast of Norway. The ship was added to the fleet in November.

A year after Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings acquired Prestige Cruise Holdings, the Miami-based company is announcing a favorable post-merger progress report.

The cruise-ship company, which includes Norwegian Cruise Line, acquired premium brand Oceania and luxury brand Regent Seven Seas in September 2014, a merger that led to first-quarter losses in 2015.

Now, the world’s third-largest cruise company is reporting that the initial costs involved in the merger are yielding results.

During a Tuesday earnings call, Norwegian reported an increase in revenue of 39 percent in 2015 over 2014, with revenue at $4.3 billion compared with $3.1 billion in 2014. Profit was reported at $427.1 million.

For the quarter ending Dec. 31, Norwegian reported net income of $38.2 million, up from $25.6 million in the same period last year. Earnings per share were up 42 percent to 51 cents, exceeding analyst expectations of 50 cents per share.

Revenue in the fourth quarter was about $1.04 billion, just under Wall Street forecasts of $1.06 billion.

“2015 marked the first full year for combined operations for the Norwegian, Oceania and Regent brands, and our results for the period demonstrate just how successful a combination this has become,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

$4.3 billion Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ revenue in 2015.

Much of the success was credited to sharing best practices among the brands, the launch of the company’s largest-ever ship, the 4,248-passenger Norwegian Escape in November, and a promising outlook going into 2016.

So far, the company has booked more than 50 percent of its reservations for 2016, the best in its history, during its crucial high-booking “wave” season in the first three months of the year. The positive bookings continue into the first half of 2017, which is 30 percent more booked compared with the same time last year.

“We had more revenue in our books, and we are better loaded coming into Wave season than ever before,” Del Rio said.

In December, Carnival Corporation announced it is already 50 percent booked on 2016 cruises — most in the first and second quarters of the year. Royal Caribbean also reported a “solid” wave season during its fourth-quarter earnings report this month.

Norwegian is also delivering two ships in 2016: Sirena to Oceania Cruises’ fleet in March and Seven Seas Explorer to Regent in the third quarter of 2016 — that line’s first new ship in 13 years.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s $400 million renovation program, started with an intensive refurbishing of the Norwegian Epic in October 2015 and lasting through 2017, will revitalize nine ships in its fleet, including three ships in 2016: Pride of America, Norwegian Sun and Norwegian Dawn.

For the current quarter ending in April, Norwegian expects its per-share earnings to range from 34 cents to 39 cents. The company expects full-year earnings in the range of $3.65 to $3.85 per share.

Norwegian shares closed at $46.92, up nearly 1 percent from the previous day’s close.

This story contains material from The Associated Press.