Carnival's profit nearly triples thanks to lower fuel prices

MIAMI -Carnival Corp.'s (CCL) profit nearly tripled in the first quarter as it paid less for the fuel to power its cruise ships.

The Miami company, which operates 99 ships under the Carnival, Holland America and other brands, also said Wednesday that trip bookings for the rest of 2016 are higher than they were last year and that travelers are paying higher prices. So the company boosted the lower end of its earnings outlook for the year, and its stock rose Wednesday.

Carnival said it now expects earnings between $3.20 and $3.40 per share for the full year. Its previous forecast was between $3.10 and $3.40 per share. Analysts expected earnings of $3.36 per share, according to FactSet. Carnival still expects revenue to rise 3 percent for the year, slightly below the 4 percent rise to $16.3 billion analysts expected, according to FactSet.

For the current quarter, Carnival expects earnings between 34 cents and 38 cents per share. Analysts expected earnings of 37 cents per share, according to FactSet. Revenue is expected to rise as much as 2.5 percent.

Carnival Wednesday reported fiscal first-quarter net income of $142 million, or 18 cents per share, in the three months ended Feb. 29, compared with $49 million, or 6 cents per share, in the same quarter the year before.

Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were 39 cents per share, topping Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 31 cents per share.

Revenue rose 3.4 percent to $3.65 billion in the period, which also beat Street forecasts. Six analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $3.62 billion.

Carnival paid $187 million for fuel costs in the quarter, 41 percent less than the $318 million it paid in the same quarter a year ago.

The company said it had about 4 percent more passengers in the quarter.

Shares of Carnival Corp. rose $2.58, or 5.2 percent, to $52.24 Wednesday in mid-afternoon trading.