By Geoff Percival
A further disruption to services at Irish Ferries will knock another €6m off the earnings of parent company Irish Continental Group (ICG) this year, taking lost earnings from cancelled sailings up to an estimated €13m, analysts have warned.
ICG’s shares fell by as much as 1.7% after it said its Ulysses ferry, which operates on the Dublin-Holyhead route, will be out of action for longer than expected, after suffering technical difficulties towards the end of last month.
The vessel had been expected to be repaired within five days, ahead of a resumption of sailing on July 4.
However, the issue was deemed more serious than anticipated and the Ulysses will now be out of service for another one-to-two weeks.
With the peak summer season starting, that is likely to hit revenues by around €2m per week and Davy has reduced its full-year earnings estimate for ICG by €6m from €74m to €68m.
Earlier this year, ICG said it was investing over €300m on two new vessels from German ship builder FSG.
One — a replacement for the Ulysses — is due in 2020, while the other, the WB Yeats, has already missed its summer schedule on the Dublin-France route, due to delayed delivery, affecting nearly 20,000 customers.
“Summer 2018 is becoming an annus horribilis; combined with the delays in the WB Yeats, this has seen around €13m taken off 2018 EBITDA,” said Davy’s Stephen Furlong, although he added the recent and current upheaval is unlikely to affect ICG’s earnings potential into 2019 and beyond.
ICG said it would be adjusting the schedules of its other vessels to minimise overall disruption and noted this ranks as the first major disruption on the Ulysses since it started sailing in 2001.