British rail and bus operator Arriva today said a strong performance in 2004 would give it a platform for expansion next year.
The Sunderland-based company said each of its divisions had traded in line with, or ahead of, expectations since it announced its half-year results in September.
The upbeat showing would put it in a good position to benefit from internal growth and acquisitions in 2005, it said.
Arriva highlighted the changing transport market in continental Europe, where rail and bus services are increasingly being contracted out, as offering “significant opportunities”.
The firm now runs buses and trains in several member states of the European Union including the UK, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal.
In October, it announced the purchase from the German state of Bavaria of a 76.9% stake in regional rail passenger operator Regentalbahn for €63m. It has since acquired a further 12.9% of Regentalbahn from minority shareholders.
Arriva said its full-year results in the UK to December 31 would include the benefit of the eight-week extension of the Arriva Trains Northern franchise to December 12.
The group, which has lost the franchise to a consortium of Serco and Dutch state railways, continued to run the contract while rail chiefs worked to resolve delays in handing it over to the new operator.
The company now runs Arriva Trains Wales and buses in areas including Derby, Durham, Essex and Hertfordshire, Kent, Leicester, London and the North West.
Chief executive Bob Davies said the group’s upbeat performance would allow it to maintain its progressive dividend policy.
“With the strong performance in 2004, we are well positioned to continue to deliver shareholder value through organic growth and targeted acquisitions,” he said.
In September, Arriva posted a 7.3% rise in half-year operating profits to £60.1m (€87.6m).