For most of 2020 Royal Caribbean Group has been drowning. But, with the tide slowly turning, now is a good time to buy into its comeback.
The stock hit a peak of $135.05 a share on January 17….and then fell off a cliff. With operations suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, investors abandoned ship in droves and the stock plummeted to $22.41 on March 19th.
Still, a savvy investor who bought chunks of Royal Caribbean at its nadir in March would be sitting pretty now. As of October 30th, the stock is at $56.42 a share.
Despite an abysmal third quarter, there are good reasons why investor confidence in Royal Caribbean is growing.
Most importantly, the successful development of vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19 should mean a swift return to something approaching pre-pandemic demand for cruising. Even with those developments far from certain right now, demand for Royal Caribbean cruises in 2021 has been surprisingly strong. In its third quarter earnings release the company reported $1.8 billion in customer deposits for cruises sometime in 2021.
And since Royal Caribbean’s stock has grown over 100% without a clear end to the pandemic in sight, it stands to reason the stock-absent other unforeseen circumstances and broader market shakeups-will continue to grow and approach its pre-pandemic price.
The Federal Reserve has committed to keeping interest rates low for the foreseeable future and this helps Royal Caribbean in two ways. Firstly, it makes the cost of investing lower, encouraging investors to take chances on riskier companies. It also makes the cost of Royal Caribbean’s $19.6 billion in debt lower, preventing it from becoming a financial albatross.
But, why not other leisure and hospitality stocks? Mainly because many of those stocks have recovered quicker and recouped much of their pre-pandemic value already. Fidelity’s Select Leisure Portfolio (FDLSX) sector fund is near its peak earlier this year.
Royal Caribbean’s stock has also outperformed its chief competitors, Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines, since March. Since Royal Caribbean’s ships are the largest of the three and potentially most able to accommodate social distancing, it may be the best bet to continue its momentum into a post-COVID-19 environment.
Buying Royal Caribbean’s stock now is certainly a risk. But, if you have faith in an eventual return to pre-pandemic tourism, Royal Caribbean is a solid value investment over the next couple of years.