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Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Line Are Raising More Money — Again

Two of the three major U.S. cruise operators announced capital raises this week, the latest in a series of similar moves in recent months as they’ve been largely sidelined by the pandemic since March.

Carnival (ticker: CCL), the largest cruise company, plans to use roughly the $1 billion stock offering it announced Tuesday to pare its growing debt load. It will exchange some debt for equity.

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH), the smallest of the major U.S. cruise companies, said in a release Tuesday that its offering involves 40 million shares at $20.80, totaling roughly $830 million. A company spokesman said Wednesday morning that it planned to use it for “general corporate purposes.” Norwegian’s monthly third-quarter cash burn averaged about $150 million.

Carnival stock fell 2.5% to $17.59, while Norwegian dropped 7.3% to $20.46. The S&P 500 dropped 1.2%.

Carnival’s transaction, announced Tuesday and expected to close by the end of the week, entails offering 57.4 million shares at $18.05, right around the current price.

Carnival said in a release that it priced the offering “to a limited number of holders” of its convertible senior debt that has a coupon of 5.75%.

The company’s debt load has ballooned during the pandemic, which has shut down most of its operations save for some cruises in the Mediterranean.

As of Aug. 31, the end of the company’s third quarter, its long-term debt totaled $18.9 billion, up from $9.7 billion at the end of its previous fiscal year on Nov. 30, 2019. The company said in a filing that its average monthly cash burn in the third quarter was $770 million, and that it expects it to fall to $530 million a month in the current quarter.

Although the additional shares will help pay down some debt, they will add to the share count, diluting existing shareholders.

It remains to be seen just when Carnival and its peers, including Royal Caribbean Group (RCL), will resume sailings out of U.S. ports.

On Oct. 31, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a conditional sailing order, having earlier banned cruise sailings since mid-March.

That includes simulated testing “a cruise ship operator’s ability to mitigate COVID-19 on cruise ships,” according to the federal agency.

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