Leisure company Carnival Corp. & Plc reported a 29 percent rise in fourth quarter profit, as 4.9 percent capacity increase and higher revenue yields drove revenue growth.

Listed in both the S&P 500 and the FTSE 100 indices, the largest cruise vacation group in the world said booking trends have continued to improve for both its North American and European brands, chiefly for its peak summer season.

We are optimistic these positive trends are an indicator of a strong wave season, our heaviest booking period which begins in early January. Given the recent cold weather and snow, particularly in the Northern U.S. and Europe, there is no better time to book a cruise vacation, chief executive Micky Arison said.

For the fourth quarter ended Nov. 30, the company posted net income of $248 million or 31 cents a share, compared with $193 million or 24 cents a share a year earlier. Revenue increased to $3.5 billion from $3.3 billion. For the full year, earnings were $2.0 billion, or $2.47 per share, on revenue of $14.5 billion.

All-in-all, 2010 was an encouraging year with improved business trends from a gradually recovering economy. We achieved an 11 percent increase in net income on 7 percent higher revenues, said Arison.

At this point in time, cumulative advance bookings for 2011 are at higher prices with slightly lower occupancies versus last year. Based on these booking trends, the company forecasts a 3 to 4 percent increase in constant dollar net revenue yields for the full year 2011.

For full year 2011, Carnival forecasts earnings per share to be in the range of $2.90 to $3.10 compared with $2.47 for 2010.

Based on current fuel prices and currency exchange rates, the company expects earnings per share for the first quarter 2011 to be in the range of $0.15 to $0.19, down from $0.22 per share in 2010.

Carnival's portfolio of cruise brands worldwide operate 98 ships totaling more than 191,000 lower berths with 10 new ships scheduled to be delivered between March 2011 and May 2014.

At 0939 am EST, shares of Carnival are up 2.9 percent at $44.54 on the NYSE, while the stock is up 3 percent at 2,884 pence on the London Stock Exchange.