Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s ($RCL) first half of 2019 was a good one when it came to earnings: in its March 31, 2019 update, it reported $1.8 billion in earnings, a 13% jump year over year. However, early estimate forecasts for the company's upcoming earnings report on August 1 expect an EPS between 2.47 and 2.52, which would put it down by about 0.69%. Zacks even puts a sell rating on the stock.

This all comes as the cruise company's Chairman & CEO Richard D. Fain sold 20,000 shares of RCL on July 11, 2019 in a sale worth $2.2 million. Any time a top exec moves a position like this, investors understandably get antsy.

While industry trends may dictate a larger market apathy for the cruise and tour sector, alternative data indicators virtually all point north for Royal Caribbean, which could give the company — and investors — reason to believe the company will weather any market storms coming its way, perhaps even an indication that there is upside in calm waters on the other side.

On multiple alternative metrics: job openings, social, and foot traffic indicators, Royal Caribbean appears to be pointed in the right direction.

Job openings at highest levels

Job openings data dating back to 2016 shows that hiring at Royal Caribbean is at its highest levels. As of mid-July, the company was seeking 151 people to join the company, up from 117 in June. That's a rise of 29% in hiring alone, an indicator that the company is bolstering its bullpen leading into the fall and winter travel seasons. The highest level of hiring we'd seen back to 2017 was for 117 positions.

Hiring at Royal Caribbean remains focused on the Miami area, followed by CocoCay where it operates an exclusive island beach pit stop for its cruise ships.

Social trending up 

Cruise and tourism are inherently customer-first affairs, and Royal Caribbean is doing its job when it comes to engaging people on social media.

The cruise line's Facebook follower count is at its highest level, and continues to trend up. As of now, it's approaching 5 million followers on Facebook at 4.74 million followers. That's a gain of about 200,000 followers in the past year.

Chatter about the brand on Facebook continues to average well, with around 20,000 mentions of Royal Caribbean per day. A spike in mention activity in November coincided with a positive event for the company: the christening of the company's new Symphony of the Seas, billed as the world's largest cruise ship.

Finally, foot traffic, as measured by Facebook "were here" geolocation data, indicates positive movement as well, although with a slowing trend year over year. The company's Facebook "were here" count tapped 1.26 million posts as of last week, up from 1.13 million at this time last year, indicating an 11.5% growth in related activity. That's slightly down from YoY were here growth of 19.9% in 2017.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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