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Mar 10, 2020

Royal Caribbean may be cut to junk by S&P on virus travel impact

How Is the Coronavirus Outbreak Affecting the Cruise Line Industry?

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Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. may be cut to junk by S&P Global Ratings as fears intensify that the coronavirus will continue to dramatically reduce travel.

S&P placed Royal Caribbean’s BBB- on watch negative as the spreading virus batters the tourism industry, affecting everything from airlines to casinos. As multiple cruise ships have been quarantined globally in an effort to contain the virus, investors have sold bonds or bought protection against default tied to debt of Royal Caribbean, as well as those of rivals Viking Cruises Ltd. and Carnival Corp.

The cost to protect Royal Caribbean’s debt against default for five years soared to the highest level since October 2008 on Monday, but retreated a bit Tuesday as the broader market rallied, according to ICE Data Services. The company is still rated investment grade at Moody’s Investors Service, one step higher than S&P’s rating.

S&P’s action takes Royal Caribbean one step closer to becoming a fallen angel. With two speculative-grade ratings, its US$1.5 billion of debt would leave the Bloomberg Barclays investment-grade index.

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