Carnival Stock Sets Sail on Alaska Service Buzz

The security looks ripe for a short squeeze

Digital Content Manager
May 21, 2021 at 9:41 AM
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Cruise concern Carnival Corp (NYSE;CCL) is getting ready to set sail again, after the House of Representatives passed a bill that allows ships to travel between Washington and Alaska. The company yesterday announced three of its brands, including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, and Carnival Cruise Line, will return to service in July for a partial season in the northernmost U.S. state, marking the first sailings since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In response, the security is up 1.3% at $27.88 at last check. 

At least one brokerage is reacting to the news with optimism. More specifically, Truist Securities raised CCL's price objective to $18 from $16 this morning. Analysts are still hesitant towards Carnival stock, with eight of the 14 in coverage carrying a tepid "hold" or worse rating, while six said "strong buy." Plus, the stock's 12-month consensus target price of $27.90 is in line with current levels, leaving plenty of room for additional price-target hikes and/or upgrades going forward.

Carnival stock has faced some rough waters over the past year. Though shares notched an April 7, one-year high of $30.62, that is still comparatively low to pre-pandemic levels. Over the past several weeks, the security has also struggled with overhead pressure at the $29 mark. Longer term, though, CCL sports a healthy 94.6% year-over-year lead.

A short squeeze could create additional tailwinds for the equity. In fact, short interest is already down 6.1% in the most recent reporting period, though the 57.08 million shares sold short still make up a 10.8% of the stock's available float. In other words, a further unwinding of pessimism among short sellers could push Carnival stock even higher.

Now may be the perfect opportunity to weigh in on CCL's next move with options. The equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 57% stands higher than only 10% of all other readings from the past year. This means options players are pricing in lower-than-usual volatility expectations.

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