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Carnival Corp. (NYSE: CCL) is the world's largest provider of vacation cruises operating under the names Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Seabourn in North America; and AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Ibero Cruises, and P&O Cruises in Europe, Australia, and Asia.
As you know, Carnival has been all over the news lately because of the deadly sinking in Italy, when the Costa Concordia suffered one of the largest cruise ship accidents in decades.
Since then, Carnival Corp. shareholders have taken some steep losses. Shares are down nearly 12%.
For investors, that leaves the question of what will happen to Carnival Corp. in the wake of the tragedy.
However, from strictly a business standpoint what investors need to know is that the ship is fully insured and at this stage it is the reinsurance firms that will have to fund the refloating and fixing costs.
So as tragic as the disaster has been, Carnival Corp. will survive.
According to a Carnival Corp. release, "the impact to 2012 earnings for loss of use is expected to be approximately $85-$95 million or $0.11-$0.12 per share."
The larger concern, as management admits in the very next sentence of the release, is that "the company anticipates other costs to the business that are not possible to determine at this time." (Full release)
So our problem here in deciding whether to buy, sell, or hold CLL are the after-effects of the accident, such as whether or not people will decide to book vacations on any of Carnival's brands.
More importantly, we won't be able to measure year-over-year comparisons for first quarter bookings until quarter end, and we won't be able to tease the bookings data for quarters two, three, and four for almost a year, when full data will be available.
However, while the company is probably going to be looking at a slower-than-expected year, I believe insurance and the diversity of assets make the Costa Concordia disaster a unique one-off event.
As a result, it's time to "Hold" Carnival Corp. (**).