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Royal Caribbean (RCL) Likely to Sail through Q1 Earnings

We expect Florida-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. RCL to beat expectations when it reports first-quarter 2016 results later this month.

Last quarter, the company posted a positive earnings surprise of 2.17%. In fact, Royal Caribbean beat earnings estimates in all of the trailing four quarters with an average positive earnings surprise of 16.72%.

Let's see what's in store for this season.

Why a Likely Positive Surprise?

Our proven model shows that Royal Caribbean is likely to beat earnings because it has the right combination of two key components.

Zacks ESP: Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, stands at +6.45%. This is a very meaningful and leading indicator of a likely positive earnings surprise.

Zacks Rank: Royal Caribbean has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Note that stocks with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 or 3 (Hold) have a significantly higher chance of beating earnings. Conversely, Sell-rated stocks (Zacks Rank #4 and 5) should never be considered going into an earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

The combination of Royal Caribbean Zacks Rank #2 and +6.45% ESP makes us reasonably confident of an earnings beat this season.

What's Driving the Better-than-Expected Earnings?

Royal Caribbean expects adjusted first-quarter earnings per share of 30 cents, much higher than 14 cents reported a year ago. The Zacks consensus Estimate is pegged slightly higher at 31 cents.

Given the strength and diversity of its brands and itineraries, the cruise operator has successfully captured both potential and repeat cruise vacationers. Strong booking and demand trends, especially for the Caribbean, North America and the Europe sailings, should also boost revenues in the to-be-reported quarter. Despite the economic slowdown in China, the company's business is poised to gain from solid growth in the cruise industry in the rest of Asia.

On the other hand, Royal Caribbean has deployed more efficient hardware, including propulsion and cooling systems that lower fuel consumption. These are, however, increasing the company's expenses which can hurt first-quarter margins. Further, revenues are likely to be affected by lower onboard spending by non-U.S. tourists due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar. Also, the economic slowdown in China and Latin America, where Royal Caribbean has a substantial presence, would put pressure on its top line in the to-be-reported quarter. Further, pricing pressures in Australia, due to an immensely competitive space, could dent the top line.

Other Stocks to Consider

Here are some other stocks in the broader consumer discretionary sector that investors may consider, as our model shows that they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Las Vegas Sands Corp. LVS with an Earnings ESP of +4.92% and a Zacks Rank #2.

Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. PNK with an Earnings ESP of +23.21% and a Zacks Rank #3.

AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. AMC with an Earnings ESP of +5.56% and a Zacks Rank #3.

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LAS VEGAS SANDS (LVS): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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