Tuesday, February 23, 1999

Hawaii business
boosts cruise firm

American Classic Voyages
has a 219-percent jump
in profits

By Russ Lynch


Steady business in its Hawaii operations contributed to American Classic Voyages Co.'s 219 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit.

The parent of American Hawaii Cruises and Delta Steamboat Co. today reported a profit of $1.5 million, or 10 cents a share, for the three months through Dec. 31, compared with a profit of $470,000, or 3 cents a share, for the year-earlier quarter. Fourth-quarter revenues of $47.1 million were up 3.7 percent from $45.4 million.

Info Box The company said it made the increased profit despite lower occupancy in its Delta Queen cruise business.

In Hawaii, the company operates the S.S. Independence, which can carry up to 1,021 passengers. That ship is 100 percent booked for the first half of 1999 at $203 per night per passenger, the Chicago-based company said.

American Classic said it's moving ahead with plans to boost the round-the-islands cruise business in Hawaii with construction of two 1,900-passenger U.S.-built ships for about $400 million each.

To help finance the first of the new vessels, the company is planning to sell up to 3.5 million new common shares, worth about $82 million at current prices, according to a papers filed at the Securities & Exchange Commission yesterday. The company said it wants to expand in Hawaii, which has a "large untapped potential" for cruises.

American Classic last year announced a tentative agreement with the Ingalls Shipbuilding division of Litton Industries Inc. to build the largest ships ever constructed in a U.S. shipyard.Merrill Lynch & Co. will be the underwriter for the new stock issue, to take place at an unspecified time and price, the company said.

American Classic has set late 2002 as the target for putting the first of the new cruise ships into operation. No formal construction contract has been signed with the Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., but American Classic said today it remains on track with the intent to sign.

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