Let’s cruise: Carnival Corp returns to pre-pandemic positive cash flow

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Carnival Corp has finally achieved something it hasn’t been able to since the pandemic plunged the entire cruise industry into unimaginable losses two years ago.

The New York-listed owner of 95 ships turned cash flow positive in April, meaning the company’s operations are bringing in more money than they are spending.

The world’s largest cruise ship owner posted revenue of $2.4 billion against an operating deficit of $1.47 billion for the first quarter, marking the first time that revenues have exceeded the costs of functioning since the arrival of Covid-19.

A year ago, New York-listed Carnival reported first-quarter revenue of $50 million versus $1.62 billion in operating costs.

“With operating cash flow turning positive and the business moving in the right direction, now is the time to pass leadership to the next generation,” chief executive Arnold Donald said in a statement.

Carnival’s chief executive since 2013 was referring to COO Josh Weinstein’s succession as CEO, announced in late April by the Miami-based company during Seatrade Cruise Global in Miami Beach.

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“Josh Weinstein has the ideal skills to move this business forward, including strong operational experience and deep industry knowledge cultivated over the past two decades,” Donald said in a statement.

“I am confident that our positive momentum will continue under Josh’s leadership and I remain confident in the long-term future of our business.”

But Carnival is still not out of the woods financially, having recorded $1.8 billion in red ink for the quarter compared to a loss of $1.9 billion a year earlier.

That resulted in a loss of $1.61 per share that missed the analyst consensus of $0.53 per share, but improved the loss per share of $1.83 a year ago.

The huge shortfall represents the 10th consecutive quarter the owner – and its peers Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings – have suffered unprecedented losses at the hands of Covid-19.

COO Josh Weinstein will become the company’s chief executive in August. Photo: Steve Dunlop

Losses for the first half of 2022 were $3.73 billion, compared to $4.05 billion in the same period of 2022. The company’s short and long-term debt is $35.2 billion.

But the company is slowly getting back on its feet and renewing its fleet as it reported 70% capacity on 90% of its fleet now back in service and bookings are slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels.

“We continue to leverage our fleet optimization efforts by reallocating capacity in highly differentiated ways to strengthen return on investment across our portfolio,” Donald said.

“Upon returning to full operations, almost a quarter of our capacity will be made up of newly delivered vessels, accelerating our return to profitability.”

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