Daily Finance published a debate today by the Motley Fool analysts about whether Carnival is a sound investment following the Costa Concordia disaster and the fire aboard the Costa Allegra cruise ship.
The result? Three thumbs down.
Here are the analysts' thoughts:
"I'll keep my flag planted on dry land."
"My primary beef with Mr. Arison was his delayed response (more than one week, according to The Wall Street Journal) to the Costa Concordia tragedy and his lack of response just six weeks later regarding the fire on the Costa Allegra. He seemed concerned more with the Miami Heat, which he owns, than Carnival Cruise Lines, leaving shareholders as an afterthought."
"I see troubled seas ahead for Carnival."
The analysts didn't even mention other recent troubles facing Carnival: the desperate move to steal tips from waiters on Carnival's subsidiary cruise line P&O Cruises, or the widespread sexual abuse scandal on cruise ships managed by its subsidiary Cunard, or the alleged criminal conduct of the Captain of the Star Princess cruise ship operated by another one of its subsidiaries, Princess Cruises.
My take? Most Carnival cruise passengers are indifferent to the exploitation of crewmembers, They don't want to hear about the sexual molestation of children during cruises. And they are going to give the captain of the Love Boat the benefit of the doubt, especially over some Panamanians floating 100 miles from nowhere.
Carnival is largely disaster proof. CEO Arison has 100 cruise ships at sea, actually 99 ships cruising and one lying on its side off the coast of Giglio. Last year, $15,000,000,000 (billion) rolled in. Carnival pays virtually no U.S. taxes. Short of al Qaeda seizing a cruise ship, forcing U.S. passengers into orange Guantanamo jump suits and cutting their heads off, an occasional capsizing, collision or fire will not spook the Carnival faithful.
Carnival fans want cheap cruises on their fun ships, lots of food & booze, and an escape from reality. As long as Carnival can provide that, fat cat cruise CEO Arison will continue to laugh all the way to the bank.