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Cruise stocks: a risk vs. reward analysis

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Certainly, there are many negatives for cruise stocks, but some investors are

cruise stocks,investments

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Investors know that oil prices and terrorism, two things that really can't be controlled, have a large influence
on the stock market. Many investors avoid airline stocks for this reason. They can't control one of their
biggest expenses (fuel) and an act of terrorism can seriously damage the industry.

Why are cruise stocks any better? Rising fuel costs and Hurricane Katrina led to lower stock prices for
companies like Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. These two cruise lines account for about
75 percent of the cruise industry, worldwide.

When George Allen Smith IV, from Connecticut, vanished while on a Royal Caribbean cruise, the industry
received a lot of negative publicity.

Certainly, there are many negatives for cruise stocks, but some investors are bullish. First, there is no direct
indication that the vanishing honeymooner from Connecticut has hurt ticket prices. Valuations on these
stocks also look good.

Carnival Corp. trades at 16 times estimated 2006 earnings; its historic range is 10 to 30 times earnings.
Royal Caribbean trades at 14 times estimated 2006 earnings; its historic range is 5 to 24 times earnings.
Growth potential is strong as only 4 percent of Americans have ever taken a cruise.

When considering cruise stocks, remember the risks. A sharp rise in fuel prices or another terrorist attack
would likely have a negative impact on cruise stocks. In my opinion the risk outweighs the possible reward
as I don't expect cruise lines to significantly outperform the broader market.
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