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Carnival Cruise Lines Ends Year On Up Note

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Carnival Cruise Lines have a reason to celebrate.

Miami based Carnival Corp. has reported that their net income for the fourth quarter climbed 29 percent to $248 million, or 31 cents per share, compared to $193 million last year.

“All-in-all, 2010 was an encouraging year with improved business trends from a gradually recovering economy,” Carnival Chairman and CEO Micky Arison said in a written statement.

The cruise line attributes a bit of an economic recovery which not only allowed them to demand higher prices but allowed people to feel okay about plunking down thousands of dollars for a vacation at sea.

Chief Operating Officer Howard Frank said during a conference call that overall demand for cruises continues to be strong, with the company pleased with booking trends and pricing — even though neither have reached pre-recession levels.

The results narrowly missed analyst expectations of 32 cents per share, but the company’s stock still rose nearly 2 percent in early trading.

In Tuesday morning’s trading, Carnival’s stock gained $1.37, or 3.2 percent, to $44.62 after reaching a 52-week high of $45.26.

Last month the company cautioned that a fire that left the Carnival Splendor adrift off Mexico’s coast for three days would lower its earnings by 7 cents per share.

Revenue for the period ended Nov. 30 rose 7 percent to $3.5 billion, topping Wall Street’s $3.36 billion.

Carnival, which operates Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Lines, predicts 2011 earnings in a range of $2.90 to $3.10 per share.

The company said its cumulative advance bookings for next year are at higher prices, with slightly lower occupancies than a year earlier. Bookings for both North American and European brands are improving, according to Arison.

“We are optimistic these positive trends are an indicator of a strong wave season, our heaviest booking period which begins in early January,” he said.

Carnival operates 98 ships, with 10 new vessels set to be delivered between March 2011 and May 2014.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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