Lindblad Expeditions Holdings has reported full year tour revenues of $309.7 mill, an increase of $43.2 mill, or 16%, compared to 2017.
The increase was driven by growth of $29.5 mill at the Lindblad segment and a $13.7 mill increase at Natural Habitat.
Lindblad segment tour revenues of $246.3 mill increased by $29.5 mill, or 14%, compared to 2017, primarily driven by 8% growth in available guest nights, most notably due to the launch of the ’National Geographic Quest’ in July, 2017 and the ‘National Geographic Venture’ in December, 2018, as well as from the impact of voyage cancellations in the first quarter of 2017 for repairs on the ‘National Geographic Orion’ and ‘National Geographic Sea Lion’.
The year-on-year growth also reflected an increase in occupancy in 2018 to 91% from 87% in 2017, due to higher overall demand across the fleet, as well as 6% growth in net yield to $1,044 from increased prices and changes in itineraries.
Natural Habitat revenues of $63.4 mill was an increase of $13.7 mill, or 28%, compared to the previous year, due primarily to higher ticket revenue from additional departures and increased pricing.
Net income of $11.4 mill for 2018, $0.24 per diluted share, increased $20 mill, compared with a net loss of $8.7 mill, $0.19 per diluted share, recorded in 2017.
This increase primarily reflected the higher operating results, $6.2 mill of lower stock-based compensation expense and a $9.4 mill decrease in tax expense, due to a $12.7 mill impact in the fourth quarter of 2017 from the enactment of the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
The current year also includes a $3.4 mill increase in depreciation and amortisation, due to the addition of new vessels to the fleet, $2.2 mill in foreign currency losses and a $1.1 mill increase in interest expense primarily related to refinancing the company’s credit facility during the first quarter of 2018.
Full year 2018 adjusted EBITDA of $54.8 mill was an increase of $11.4 mill, or 26%, compared to 2017.
Lindblad segment adjusted EBITDA of $47.8 mill was an increase of $9.2 mill, or 24%, compared to 2017, as the rise in tour revenue was partially offset by higher operating costs primarily from a full year’s operation of the ’National Geographic Quest’ and costs associated with the December, 2018 launch of the ‘National Geographic Venture’.
Last year’s result also reflected higher commission expense associated with the revenue growth, as well as increased fuel and personnel costs.
Natural Habitat adjusted EBITDA of $7 mill increased $2.2 mill, or 46%, compared to 2017 as the revenue growth was partially offset by higher operating costs related to the additional departures and increased marketing and personnel costs to drive long-term growth initiatives.
For the 4Q18, tour revenues of $70.6 mill increased $7.4 mill, or 12%, compared to the same period in 2017. This increase was driven by growth of $4.5 mill at Natural Habitat and a $2.9 mill increase at the Lindblad segment.
Lindblad segment tour revenues of $51.8 mill increased $2.9 mill, or 6%, compared to 4Q17 primarily driven by a 16% increase in net yield to $1,071 and an increase in occupancy to 91% from 86% in 2017.
Net yield growth was driven by higher pricing and changes in itineraries, while occupancy growth was driven by higher demand across the fleet, most notably on the ‘National Geographic Orion’, due to a lower occupancy transatlantic voyage in 4Q17. Available guest nights declined 9% primarily due to the transatlantic voyage, partially offset by the launch of the ‘National Geographic Venture’ in December, 2018.
Net loss for 4Q18 was $4.6 mill, $0.10 per diluted share, compared with a loss of $16 mill, $0.36 per diluted share, in 4Q17. The $11.4 mill improvement versus a year ago primarily reflects a $13.1 mill decrease in tax expense mainly due to a $12.7 mill impact from the enactment of the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 4Q17, partially offset by lower operating results and $0.8 mill in foreign currency losses.
Fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA of $4.1 mill was a decrease of $0.7 mill, or 15%, compared to the same period in 2017, as growth of $0.9 mill at Natural Habitat was more than offset by a $1.6 mill decrease at the Lindblad segment.
The company’s cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash totalled $122.2 mill as of 31st December, 2018, compared with $103.5 mill at the end of 2017.
The $18.7 mill increase primarily reflects $56.4 mill in net cash provided by operating activities, due to the strong operating performance and $16.5 mill in net cash provided by financing activities, primarily due to the increase in long-term debt associated with refinancing the credit facility.
These increases were partially offset by $54.3 mill in net cash used in investing activities, primarily related to the construction of two new vessels.
Sven-Olof Lindblad, President and CEO, said, “Lindblad’s strong financial growth and operating momentum during 2018 demonstrates the unique opportunity we have to build long-term value as we capitalise on the growing demand for expedition travel.
“We have significantly increased our overall capacity with the launch of our two new coastal vessels, the ‘National Geographic Quest’ and the ‘National Geographic Venture’, and at the same time have been able to expand our occupancy and net yields despite the additional inventory.
“Lindblad’s unparalleled track record of delivering high quality and authentic experiences, along with our strategic partnership with National Geographic, continues to generate high levels of repeat guests and is attracting more and more new travellers who want to immerse themselves in the world’s most remarkable geographies.
“With additional capacity and a strong booking environment, 2019 is poised to grow significantly. At the same time, we continue to build the next drivers of growth with the ‘National Geographic Endurance’ scheduled to launch in early 2020 and we have announced that that we have contracted for another new, state of the art, Polar vessel for delivery late in 2021 (see elsewhere).
“Overall, we have committed to expanding our available guest nights by over 60% from pre-expansion levels as we broaden our ability to build additional shareholder value in the years ahead,” he concluded.