Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd posted a quarterly loss and cut its 2009 forecast as fears about the flu and the weak economy dampen travel demand, sending the company's shares down 12 percent.

The world's No. 2 cruise operator also forecast third-quarter earnings below Wall Street estimates and said costs from the H1N1 flu would be higher than previously expected.

The Miami-based company cut its forecast for 2009 earnings to a range of 70 cents to 80 cents per share, due in part to the impact of the flu virus.

The company last cut its full-year forecast in June, when it said the flu, ineffective fuel hedging and other costs would lower earnings to 86 cents a share.

It forecast third-quarter earnings of 95 cents to $1.00 a share, below analysts' average forecast of $1.22, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company reported a second-quarter net loss of 16 cents per share, or $35.1 million, compared with a profit of $84.7 million, or 40 cents, a year earlier.

Analysts on average expected a per-share loss of 15 cents, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue slumped 19 percent to $1.3 billion, slightly below the average forecast.

The company's shares were down $1.98 to $14.41 in late-morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.


The H1N1 flu virus has led to itinerary modifications and lower demand for vessels that visit Mexican ports, the company said. During the second quarter, the company said the flu cost it 5 cents per share.

It said the flu would reduce third-quarter earnings by 18 cents a share and full-year earnings by 27 cents a share. In June it said the full-year impact would be 22 cents a share.

Obviously, the economy continues to be a challenge and the impact from the publicity surrounding H1N1 has been very frustrating, Chief Executive Richard Fain said in a statement.

During a conference call with analysts, Chief Financial Officer Brian Rice said the company continues to see lower bookings than a year ago, but booking activity tends to spike about four months prior to travelers' departures.

The booking window is more contracted than last year, Rice said, but he added it has been consistent for about eight months.

The company said it expects yields to improve next year and is seeing stability in demand.

Royal Caribbean's bigger rival, Carnival Corp & PLC , beat analysts' forecasts for quarterly profit in June on better pricing and lower cruise costs.

(Reporting by Oslo newsroom and Deepa Seetharaman in New York; additional reporting by Kyle Peterson in Chicago; Editing by Hans Peters and John Wallace)