Royal Caribbean: Light at the End of the Tunnel Despite Persistent Challenges

To say it hasn’t been a good year for cruise line operators would be underselling the disaster 2020 has been. Amongst a sea of hurting industries, the pain inflicted by the coronavirus on cruise lines has arguably been second to none.However, following the delivery of its quarterly results on Monday, Royal Caribbean (RCL) shares popped by a handy 16%.Not that the surge came off the back of an estimate trouncing report. With no meaningful sailing to report in the quarter, revenue dropped year-over-year by a dispiriting 94% to $175 million, although the top line figure did manage to beat the estimates by $17.73 million. No surprise on the bottom line, with a non-GAAP EPS loss of $6.13 missing consensus by $1.58. With the way things stand, Q3 isn’t expected to fare much better, either. However, the reason behind the uptick concerned the more long-term outlook laid out by the company. Management said 2021 bookings remain “within historical range” of which 60% are new bookings.For Credit Suisse analyst Benjamin Chaiken this is the key take away from the earnings call. The 5-star analyst remains buoyed by 2021’s bookings, with “cumulative pricing above 2019 levels excluding FCC (future cruise credits).”Taking the long-term view, Chaiken believes the cost cutting measures will have a lasting and positive effect.Chaiken said, “Like other companies in travel/leisure RCL, we believe, is in a unique position to exit a more efficient company, with potential room for SG&A to come down… From a sentiment standpoint, we think that cruise is well positioned. Following a few weeks of risk-off, as the market slowly digested the news of spiking COVID cases and its impact on leisure travel, we think expectations are in a much better place and positioning also reflects a more conservative and potentially bumpy road ahead, which is good for the cruise/travel/leisure set-up in our view.”To this end, Chaiken rates RCL an Outperform (i.e. Buy) along with a $75 price target. This figure implies possible upside of 24%. (To watch Chaiken’s track record, click here)Among Chaiken’s colleagues, opinions are mixed, resulting in a conflicted outlook. 7 Buys, 8 Holds and 2 Sells add up to a Moderate Buy consensus rating. Meanwhile, the $54.38 average price target implies a 5% downside from current levels. (See RCL stock analysis on TipRanks)Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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