Monday Briefing

Market analysts have remained relatively upbeat over the prospects for ferry operator/freight business, Irish Continental Group (ICG) — which holds its annual general meeting on Wednesday.

The group’s most recent trading update — issued earlier this month — was a real mixed bag; showing a marginal drop in revenue for the year so far, due to the effects of a 22% rise in fuel costs; and a near three-fold increase in pre-tax losses to €3.2m. However, passenger numbers for the period were up by 1.4%, on a year-on-year basis, and management noted that the second half of the year is traditionally its stronger period.On the back of that, Goodbody Stockbrokers maintained its positive outlook on ICG, “given that the balance sheet is fully invested for the next five to 10 years and cash should continue to accumulate at a rate of €25m per annum.”And Dolmen Stockbrokers said that the group has time to recoup; adding that ICG’s policy of not hedging its fuel requirements could benefit it, given weakening oil prices. This week’s shareholder meeting will also include an EGM to approve the board’s proposed capital reduction plans.

Business sector(s): Ferry and freight services. Headquarters: Alexandra Road, Dublin 1. Senior management: Eamonn Rothwell (chief executive); Gearoid O’Dea (finance director); John McGuckian (chairman). Subsidiary companies: Irish Ferries, Irish Ferries Freight, Eucon, Feederlink, Dublin Ferryport Terminals, Belfast Container Terminal (BCT). Ferry port locations: Dublin, Rosslare, Cherbourg, Roscoff, Pembroke, Holyhead. Earnings breakdown: 80% ferries; 20% container freight.Stock market listing(s): Irish Stock Exchange. Market capitalisation: €384m. Number of shares in circulation: 24.9m. Current share price: €15.41. 12-month share price high: €16.65. 12-month share price low: €13.90. Revenue: €272.3m. Pre-tax profit: €28.2m. Earnings per share: 111.1c. EBITDA: €49.1m. Net debt: €7.8m. Dividend per share: 133c. Recommendation: Dolmen Stockbrokers has a ‘buy’ tag on the ICG stock and a share price target of €19.50. Goodbody Stockbrokers also rates ICG as a ‘buy’ option.


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