Royal Caribbean warns Omicron will delay return to profitability By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of the world’s largest cruise ship of Royal Caribbean Cruises, the 362-metre-long Symphony of the Seas, during its world presentation ceremony, berthed at a port in Malaga, Spain March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Jon Nazca/File Photo

(Reuters) -Cruise operator Royal Caribbean (NYSE:) Group said on Friday that the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant would delay its return to profitability by a few months after posting a bigger loss than expected in the fourth quarter.

The Omicron surge has in recent months forced cruise operators to change their trip itineraries and even cancel voyages, dealing another blow to an industry that just resumed sailing from U.S. ports in mid-2021.

The impact was especially strong during the holiday period and continued into January, Royal Caribbean said, as several frequent cruise passengers also stayed away from voyages and rescheduled their trips.

The company forecast a net loss for the first half of 2022 and said it would be profitable in the last six months of the year. Analysts polled by Refinitiv had estimated a loss for the first quarter and a return to profits in the second.

Royal Caribbean shares were down 1% before the bell.

In the quarter to Dec. 31, total revenue came in at $982.2 million, missing analysts’ estimates of $1.04 billion.

Adjusted net loss of $4.78 per share was also larger than expectations of a $3.92 per share loss.

However, Royal Caribbean said bookings have started to pick up and were at pre-Omicron levels on Friday.

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