Carnival Corp & Plc , the world's largest cruise operator, lifted its 2009 earnings forecast on Tuesday, citing stronger booking volumes, sending shares up as much as 8.4 percent.

Booking volumes for cruises slated for the remainder of 2009 and the first half of 2010 are running 19 percent ahead of the prior year, spurred partly by heavy discounts.

It is clear that we've kind of stabilized here, and that we have been able to tweak pricing up at a price point that people find very attractive, said Chief Operating Officer Howard Frank during a conference call with analysts.

Frank added that Carnival did not expect rates to fall further, given the strength in late bookings. He said pricing for European itineraries in the first quarter of 2010, a major growth area for Carnival, was holding up well.

Miami-based Carnival now expects full-year earnings between $2.16 and $2.20, up from its earlier range of $2.00 to $2.10.

The company, which operates 93 ships, forecasts a 14 percent drop in net revenue yields for the year, reflecting unfavorable exchange rates. Net revenue yields is a key gauge of revenue performance in the cruise industry.

It will be a slow, emerging yield environment for us, Frank said during the call. It will take several recover.

Carnival's shares were up $2.37 to $34.37 on the New York Stock Exchange, after rising as high as $34.68. Rival Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd saw its shares jump 5.7 percent or $1.31, to $24.55.

Carnival's credit default swaps tightened on Tuesday, showing that it costs less to insure the company's debt against the risk of default than late last week, traders said.


Carnival reported a net profit of $1.1 billion, or $1.33 per share, in the third quarter ended August 31.

Analysts, on average, expected the cruise company to earn $1.18 per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue sank more than 14 percent to about $4.1 billion.

Net revenue yields, on a current dollar basis, fell 16.5 percent, while net cruise costs, including fuel, fell 11.4 percent in constant dollars.

Net yield results exceeded our expectations due to better than expected pricing on close-in bookings during the summer cruise period, said Susquehanna analyst Robert LaFleur in a research note.

In the fourth quarter, Carnival expects earnings to be between 16 cents and 20 cents, down from the 47 cents per share logged a year earlier. Analysts on average expected 23 cents per share.

(Additional reporting by Tom Ryan; editing by Gerald E. McCormick, editing by Dave Zimmerman)