Hopefully Carnival CEO and Miami Heat owner Micky Arison has some of his billions stashed away in some nice, safe mutual funds. Arison already lost $1.3 billion last year to shrinking stocks and after this weekend's epic disaster by a Carnival-owned ship off Italy -- which left 6 dead, 29 missing, and experts fearing a massive backlash -- investors are expected to flee the company in droves once markets open worldwide today.
Actually, before the first bell even rings this morning, Carnival's stock has already plummeted 18 percent in pre-market trading. How low will it go by day's end?
Update: Carnival stock is still getting hammered as the number of dead has now risen to 11 with five more bodies discovered today. And the bad press will only get worse as Italian authorities have released audio that seems to show the ship's captain refusing to return to the stricken vessel to help passengers evacuate. Click through to listen.
Ever since the Costa Concordia struck a reef Friday night and dramatically sank off the Tuscan coast, Carnival's Doral headquarters has dealt with the worry that cruisers will stay away after days of horrible photos and gripping near-death stories.
Even if bookings don't plummet, investors are already selling off Carnival as if they have.
"The extensive media coverage of this incident and criticism of how the crew handled the situation could have some near-term impact on booking activity," ITG Investment analyst Matthew Jacob writes to CNBC this morning. "A slowdown in bookings could depress pricing during the crucial wave season."
Arison, meanwhile, has yet to speak about the catastrophe. Italian authorities have charged the ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, with manslaughter amid claims he fled the boat before helping passengers evacuate.
We'll update this post as trading opens in New York and Carnival's stock is really tested.
Update: By midday, Carnival stock is down just under 15 percent as the company estimates at least a $100 million hit to its profits from the catastrophe.
Audio released by Italian police seems to show Shettino, the ship's captain, repeatedly refusing to return to the sinking ship. Here it is with subtitles, via the Guardian:
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