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RCL’s Big Bet

January 31, 2024

Royal Caribbean is following a tough act as its family-fun-but-less-expensive-and-a-little-cheesier peer, Carnival, took the market by surprise last quarter.

Carnival Cruise's earnings report last month showed a significant improvement in revenue and passenger capacity numbers in 2023, with record-breaking revenue, occupancy, and passenger numbers surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

LikeFolio data suggests that Royal Caribbean is poised to follow suit for 3 big reasons:

Mentions have grown at the same rate as Carnival YoY (+6% for CCL and RCL):

Web visits are growing by even more than Carnival (a good nod for future bookings):

RCL boasts higher happiness levels:

Royal Caribbean (RCL) is experiencing high consumer satisfaction largely due to its unique and adventurous onboard activities, including ice skating, rock climbing, and surfing simulators, which offer an exciting and diverse cruise experience. And speaking of experiences…

RCL’s new Icon of the Sea ship is setting major records as the Cruise Line goes BIG: Largest cruise ship in the world: At 250,600 gross tons, it surpasses the previous record holder, Wonder of the Seas, by 6% in size.

From a price per cruise perspective, RCL is goldilocks – not too high (NCLH), not too low (CCL).

While it may be tempting to play this to the upside, we should consider the bar and potential headwinds from conflicts in the Middle East. RCL stock has outperformed CCL and NCLH on a 3 month, 6 month, and YoY basis, with shares trading +84% higher than they were in 2023 vs. CCL at +39% and NCLH at +6% in the same time frame.

Looking ahead, data supports continued outperformance by RCL: winners are gonna win!

However, we wouldn't be surprised to see a muted response (or even a temporary dip) if earnings aren't gangbusters. We're currently on the sidelines, but this name is best of breed and we are buyers of a dip. Gamblers may not be ablet to resist.

As an aside, if Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) can get costs under control, this may be one ready to pop. We’ll keep an eye out…

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