Royal Caribbean Cruises , the world's number two cruise group, reiterated a strong outlook on Thursday with a chance of record earnings in 2004.
Finance director Luis Leon reiterated more optimistic goals set in July for 2004 earnings per share (EPS) of $2.25 to $2.40, up from a previous $2.10 to $2.30, and for 2004 growth in net yields of between 7 and 9 percent against an earlier forecast of 5 to 7 percent.
"There is the potential for a record net income," Leon said at a presentation in Oslo of the 2004 outlook for the Norwegian-U.S. group.
In 2000, the group's best year listed on a website back to 1998, Royal Caribbean had net income of $445 million, or $2.31 per share. The group's EPS range for 2004 would correspond to net income of $435-$464 million.
"We feel very comfortable" with the outlook, he told Reuters after the presentation to analysts of the Miami-based company, the biggest cruise group behind Carnival Cruises .
"The robust economy is the key driver. We don't have SARS or Norwalk," he added, referring to viruses that have discouraged travel. "We have Iraq but people get used to it."
Leon also said that the group wanted to expand into Asia from its main areas of North America and Europe. The company has 29 cruise ships and says it has a global market share of 29 percent, behind Carnival on 52 percent.
"Asia is a market we have to get into," he said. "I expect that we'll be there in three to five years.