Carnival stock’s rally is a sign ‘this market is driven by hope,’ Jim Cramer says

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Carnival stock managed to bounce as investors attempt to get ahead of the coronavirus story, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday.

Shares of the British cruise line operator rose more than 2%, despite the company’s warning that the novel virus outbreak could impact its bottom line this year.

Wall Street is “blessing any company that spells out its China losses, from Carnival, with its highly visible duo of plague ships, [to] PVH and Nike,” the “Mad Money” host said. “When you see Carnival stock up 2.6% today on the possibility of a big but quantifiable chunk of earnings going away, well, you know this market is driven by hope.”

Before the market opened, Carnival announced that its earnings potential could decrease by 65 cents per share should the company have to shut down its Asia operations through April.

Two ships under the company’s portfolio of cruise lines are embroiled in the outbreak.

The Diamond Princess, which carried 3,700 people on a trip through East Asia, is under a two-week quarantine that began Feb. 3 at a dock near Tokyo. Health officials in Japan said 175 people have been removed from the ship and taken to hospitals after falling ill from the virus.

The MS Westerdam was given permission Wednesday to dock in Cambodia and more than 2,300 people will be allowed to disembark, after multiple countries turned the cruise ship away over fears that someone may have been infected by the coronavirus.

The former ship is owned by Carnival’s Princess Cruises, and the latter is owned by Holland America Line.

While Carnival’s projection is “not great, it’s really … a lot less harsh than many of us were expecting — meaning plenty of people are still willing to go on cruises,” Cramer said. “More important, the fallout has been quantified, which is why Wall Street’s reaching for this stock.”

Carnival said it could not determine the full financial impact as the outbreak continues to unfold. The company does not have any plans, currently, to end operations in the region, though some trips originating in China have been canceled.

The strain on Carnival’s numbers also accounts for refunds and complimentary trips offered to guests, as well as the impact on global bookings, the company said in a press release.

The coronavirus, which the World Health Organization has named COVID-19, originated in late December in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and the majority of cases are still in China. Globally, more than 45,000 people have been infected and at least 1,115 have died. More than 5,000, however, have recovered.

About a dozen cases have been confirmed in the United States.

Carnival shares are down more than 13% year to date. The stock finished the trading day near $44 per share.

In the broader market, Cramer attributed the gains on Wall Street to easing fears over the epidemic in China and results from the New Hampshire primary. The Dow Jones Industrial and Nasdaq Composite both advanced nearly 1%, while the S&P 500 rose 0.65%.

After Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., established himself as the front-runner to be the Democratic nominee, investors are widely unconvinced that the self-proclaimed democratic socialist is likely to beat President Donald Trump in November. Sanders’ progressive policy proposals would upend the way that many businesses operate, especially the private health-care system.

Among them is Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who wrote in a tweet that Sanders is as “polarizing” as Trump and would “ruin our economy.”

“That sums up the prevailing view on Wall Street, though: They’re confident Sanders will lose if he’s the nominee,” Cramer said.

“I think it’s a mistake to get too confident about election predictions. Last time Wall Street was pretty convinced that Hillary [Clinton] had it locked up, right?” the host said. “But it’s fair to say that Bernie’s got an uphill battle and the market’s not a believer in this guy.”

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