Risk Management

Hurricanes Damage Bottom Lines

Disney and JetBlue are among the losers in the wake of the Florida Storms. One mobile-home maker, however, will nearly double its backlog.
Stephen TaubSeptember 10, 2004

Insurers aren’t the only companies that will pay a price for Hurricanes Charley and Frances. Indeed, a number of other kinds of organizations warned this week that current quarterly earnings will be adversely affected by the storms.

Most of them are reasonably predictable. For instance, at least two airlines that fly to Florida—JetBlue and AirTran Holdings—suffered earnings hits.

In JetBlue’s case, Hurricane Charley caused a large number of flight delays and 50 cancellations. Frances caused 262 flights to be canceled, the company reported. Further, near-term bookings have been hurt by concerns about Hurricane Ivan.

AirTran will report a third-quarter loss stemming from the two recent hurricanes and the fear of Ivan. “The disruption of traffic over the busy Labor Day holiday generated immediate revenue loss, and continuing weather alerts are impacting near-term future bookings,” the airline said in a press release.

AirTran’s Orlando headquarters and aircraft hangar in Orlando suffered damage and other operations problems.

Carnival Corp., which operates cruise lines, reported that Hurricane Frances would slice about three cents to four cents from its quarterly earnings. Severe weather and port closures forced the company to cancel three Carnival Cruise Lines voyages and shorten the itineraries for six of its brands’ cruises.

Further, Walt Disney Co. CFO Tom Staggstold confirmed a report in the Wall Street Journal that the temporary closure of its Florida theme parks and other minor damage would cost the company between $30 million and $45 million in pretax earnings, or about 1 cent per share, according to Reuters.

Leisure companies weren’t the only ones affected by the storms. Federated Department Stores, Inc., for instance, said it probably lost about $20 million in sales from Hurricane Frances, cutting September same-store sales by 1.5 percent and earnings by about three-to-four cents a share in the third quarter.

Equity Residential, the largest apartment real estate investment trust (REIT), warned that hurricane damage caused at the company’s Florida properties will result in casualty losses of about $9 million, or about three cents per share, in the September quarter. The company owns 163 properties, consisting of 30,882 units in Florida.

One company, however, went out of its way to announce that it would reap gains from the hurricane. Mobile home maker Fleetwood Enterprises Inc. told analysts and investors in a conference call that its manufactured housing backlog at the end of August nearly doubled as a result of Hurricane Charley, according to Reuters. The backlog rose to $75 million from $46 million as a result.

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