Fuel Costs See Star Cruises Sink Into The Red In First Quarter

Hong Kong, May 20: | Updated: May 21 2003, 05:30am hrs
Star Cruises Ltd sank into the red in the first quarter (Q1) largely due to a surge in fuel costs and the luxury cruise operator cautioned that weak bookings due to SARS would continue to hit earnings in the next three months.

The net loss came in at $5.04 million for the three months-ended in March, down sharply from a net profit of $681,000 a year ago, the worlds fourth-largest cruise liner said in a statement after the market closed.

Fuel costs were up about 50-60 per cent over the same period last year for the firm, which also owns the Norwegian Cruise Line.

However, its turnover rose almost 12 per cent to $412 million with stronger performances in all its markets, including Asia-Pacific, which has been hard-hit by SARS.

The SARS crisis will continue to have a negative impact on the Groups profitability in the second quarter, Star Cruises said. It added, however, that with the disease slowly coming under control in Hong Kong and Singapore, it expected to see a slow return to normality in these two core markets after the second quarter.

The firms Hong Kong-listed shares climbed 1.73 per cent to HK$1.76 on Tuesday on thin volume. They are up almost 16 per cent this month but are down 20 per cent so far in 2003. In Singapore, Star Cruises shares jumped 4.8 per cent to $0.22.

Turnover for Asia-Pacific, its second largest market after North America, rose to $113.05 million from $110.48 million. Revenue for North America jumped to $267.89 million from $230.56 million. (Reuters)