Norwegian Leads Cruise Stocks Lower After Pricing Share Offering

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. fell as much as 17%, leading cruise stocks lower Friday after offering new shares at a steep discount to retire exchangeable debt.

Norwegian tumbled as low as $27.27 in New York after the company said it would issue 47.6 million new shares, priced at $30 each. Carnival Corp., the industry leader, lost 12% while Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. retreated 10%. Norwegian was also the biggest daily loser in the S&P 500 index.

The sale is significantly larger, as percentage of existing shares, than recent fundraisings by Royal Caribbean and Carnival. Royal Caribbean on March 3 completed an offering of almost 17 million shares at $91 each. Carnival, the biggest cruise company, priced 40.5 million shares at $25.10 in February.

Cruise operations remain on pause during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the companies have been taking advantage of a recent run-up in their shares to raise money.

The cruise industry essentially went on hold in mid-March 2020 after a series of Covid-19 outbreaks and deaths on ships, and companies have raised billions of dollars in debt and equity to maintain their fleets and meet other expenses while shut down. The companies are still waiting for a green light from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to sail again from U.S. waters.

Norwegian shares had risen almost fivefold from their pandemic-driven low last March, as the industry became a key proxy bet on the return to a pre-pandemic “normal.”

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