Cruise operator Carnival sees hit to earnings from coronavirus fallout

FILE PHOTO: The cruise ship Diamond Princess, where dozens of passengers were tested positive for coronavirus, is seen at Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, Japan February 10, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo

(Reuters) – Carnival Corp (CCL.N) (CCL.L), the operator of a cruise ship quarantined in Japan due to coronavirus cases, warned on Wednesday of a hit to its annual earnings from a potential suspension of its operations in Asia due to the outbreak.

The epidemic, which originated in mainland China and has killed more than 1,100 people, has taken a toll on cruise operators as travel restrictions and fear of the virus spreading have led to cancellations of trips in the Far East.

Carnival’s Diamond Princess ship has remained docked in Yokohama, south of Tokyo since Feb. 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong was diagnosed with the virus. With 175 passengers and crew infected, the British-flagged ship has the biggest cluster of infected people outside China.

Adding to holidaymakers’ worries about Asian voyages, the MS Westerdam, a ship of healthy passengers also operated by Carnival, had been sailing for two weeks looking for a country to dock. Cambodia finally agreed to let the ship dock and disembark its passengers on Wednesday.

China reported on Wednesday its lowest number of new coronavirus cases in nearly two weeks, lending weight to a forecast by its foremost medical adviser for the outbreak to end by April.

However, it was still unclear to what extent economic growth would take a hit from the virus and a global expert warned it was only beginning elsewhere.

Carnival, which has already suspended cruise operations at ports in China, said it expects a 55 cents to 65 cents per share impact on its 2020 earnings if it was forced suspend operation in the rest of Asia.

Analysts are expecting earnings of $4.52, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Rival Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCL.N) said earlier this month it expected cruise cancellations to lower its first-quarter earnings by 25 cents per share.

Additional reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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