Lindblad Expeditions Holdings has reported full year tour revenues of $343.1 mill an increase of $33.4 mill, or 11%, compared to 2018.
This increase was driven by growth of $26.1 mill on the Lindblad segment and a $7.3 mill increase at Natural Habitat.
Lindblad segment tour revenues were $272.4 mill, an increase of $26.1 mill, or 11%, compared to 2018. The rise was primarily due to a 10% increase in available guest nights, mostly from the arrival of the ‘National Geographic Venture’ in December, 2018.
The year on year growth also reflected a 1% increase in net yield to $1,051, due primarily to higher pricing and changes in itineraries, while occupancy was in line with the previous year at 91%.
Natural Habitat revenues increased by $7.3 mill, or 11%, to $70.7 mill, compared to 2018, mainly due to higher ticket revenue from additional departures, increased travellers and itinerary changes that drove higher average pricing.
Net income available to common stockholders for 2019 was $13.7 mill, $0.28 per diluted share, compared with $11.4 mill, $0.24 per diluted share, in 2018. The $2.3 mill increase primarily reflected the improved operating results, a $0.1 mill foreign currency gain in the current year, compared with a $2.2 mill foreign currency loss for the previous year and the absence of $1 mill in costs related to refinancing the company’s credit facility in 2018.
These increases were partially offset by a $5 mill increase in depreciation and amortisation, due largely to the addition of the ‘National Geographic Venture’ to the fleet, a $2.7 mill non-cash deemed dividend related to completing the warrant exchange, a $1.6 mill increase in income tax expense and $1.5 mill of increased interest expense primarily associated with building the two new bluewater vessels.
Full year adjusted EBITDA was $66.6 mill, an increase of $11.8 mill, or 21%, compared to 2018. This increase was driven by growth of $10.2 mill in the Lindblad segment and $1.6 mill at Natural Habitat.
Lindblad segment’s adjusted EBITDA of $58 mill was an of increase $10.2 mill, or 21%, compared to 2018, as the increased tour revenues, lower drydocking costs and a decline in VAT expense were partially offset by operating costs on the ‘National Geographic Venture’.
Last year was also impacted by higher marketing spend to drive long-term growth initiatives, increased commission expense related to booking growth and higher personnel costs.
Natural Habitat adjusted EBITDA of $8.6 mill was an increase of $1.6 mill, or 23%, compared to 2018, as the revenue growth was partially offset by increased operating costs related to additional departures and higher marketing and personnel costs to drive long-term growth initiatives.
Fourth quarter 2019 tour revenues were $75.8 mill, an increase of $5.2 mill, or 7%, compared to the same period in 2018. This was driven by growth of $3 mill at the Lindblad segment and a $2.1 mill increase at Natural Habitat.
For 4Q19, the group reported a net loss available to common stockholders of $1.5 mill, $0.03 per diluted share, compared with a loss of $4.6 mill, $0.1 per diluted share, in 4Q18.
The $3.2 mill improvement on the previous year primarily reflected improved operating results and a $1.3 mill foreign currency gain in the current quarter, compared with a $0.7 mill foreign currency loss in 4Q18.
Fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA was $8 mill, an increase of $3.9 mill, or 94%, compared to the same period in 2018. This was driven by growth of $2.9 mill at the Lindblad segment and $1 mill at Natural Habitat.
Sven-Olof Lindblad, President and CEO, said “Lindblad delivered another year of strong financial growth in 2019 as our sustained investment in expanding our capacity to further meet the growing demand for authentic expedition travel is attracting a diverse audience of new and returning guests.
“We have increased our inventory by more than 20% since we began strategically investing in our newbuild programme in 2015 and since that time, we have grown net yields by 8%, while also maintaining occupancy levels above 90%. In 2020, with a continued strong booking environment and the expected April launch of the ‘National Geographic Endurance’, our first new state-of-the-art Polar Ice Class vessel, we are poised to substantially build on the growth we delivered this past year.
“Overall, Lindblad’s proven track record in delivering high quality and immersive experiences in the world’s most remarkable geographies, along with our strategic partnership with National Geographic, should enable us to continue to add inventory while maintaining strong price points and audience levels, driving additional shareholder value in the years ahead,” he concluded.
The Company’s cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash were $109.3 mill as of 31st December, 2019, compared with $122.2 mill as of 31st December, 2018.
This decrease primarily reflected purchases of property and equipment of $96 mill, mostly related to the construction of two new vessels, partially offset by $62.6 mill in net cash provided by operating activities due to the strong operating performance.
The current year also includes $24.6 mill in net cash provided by financing activities, primarily due to $30.5 mill in borrowings under our second export credit agreement in conjunction with our second instalment payment on the ‘National Geographic Resolution’.
In April, 2019, the company entered into a second export credit agreement to make available an optional loan in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed $122.8 mill to provide financing for up to 80% of the purchase price of the new expedition Ice Class cruise vessel.
Free cash flow use was $33.4 mill for 2019, a decline of $35.4 mill from 2018, primarily due to higher capital expenditures for the construction of new vessels. Free cash flow is defined as net cash provided by operating activities less purchases of property and equipment.
Lindblad’s current expectations for the full year 2020 are as follows:
• Tour revenues of $400 – $410 mill (17 – 20% growth)
• Adjusted EBITDA of $82 – $86 mill (23 – 29% growth).
As of 18th February, 2020, Lindblad segment bookings for travel this year have increased 26%, compared with bookings for 2019, as of the same date a year ago. In addition, the Lindblad segment had 86% of full year 2020 projected guest ticket revenues on the books versus 87% of full year 2019 guest ticket revenue at the same time last year.
Given the destinations we visit and the geographies where guests are sourced, it is currently anticipated that there will be limited direct impact from the COVID-19 virus. However, at this time it is too early to estimate the potential indirect impact resulting from any decreased demand for travel related to the outbreak.
The Company’s financial performance could be materially impacted by this indirect impact if booking patterns change significantly moving forward, it warned.