Ryanair flying high as profit forecast raised to €770m

Ryanair has warned against any “irrational exuberance” regarding its medium-term prospects, despite it upping its own full-year profit guidance for the second time in as many quarters, yesterday, and seeing its share price jump by over 10% on the back of a strong set of first half results.

Yesterday, the low-fare airline issued a set of interim figures, which led Davy Stockbrokers to suggest that its market position is now “stronger than ever”.

After-tax profits, for the six months to the end of September were up by 32% year-on-year to €795m, with revenue rising by 9% to €3.54bn, and basic earnings per share ahead by 36% at 57.44c.

The good first-half showing was partly attributed to an earlier Easter holiday period this year and a weaker first half comparison from the company’s previous financial year, but management said its high-profile customer service improvements have played a part.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said management had been “pleasantly surprised” at the rapid uptake of new product offerings such as Family and Business Plus, which he said are enabling Ryanair to win over customers from its competitors. The latter programme, which the airline hopes will see 30% of its customers being business travellers within five years, is expected to gain real momentum during the winter months.

Chief financial officer Neil Sorahan said the airline has much-improved visibility on forward bookings and should see a 9% total passenger increase this year to between 87m and 89m customers. New monthly figures, also published yesterday, show that Ryanair carried 8.4m people in October, 400,000, or 5%, more than for the same month last year.

First-half passenger numbers were up by 4% to 51.3m people, meanwhile.

Following a strong first quarter, Ryanair upped its full-year post-tax profit guidance (for the 12 months to the end of next March) from a €580m-€620m range to somewhere between €620m-€650m. Yesterday, management said it now expects annual profits to come in between €750m and €770m.

“Ryanair’s business model continues to deliver as it grows relentlessly in all segments of the market to 150m passengers by 2024,” said Stephen Furlong of Davy Stockbrokers. “Its balance sheet, market position, cost structure and incremental business model improvements make it a stand-out industry leader.”

Away from the results, Mr Sorahan said that the takeover battle for Cyprus Airways should conclude in the next four to six weeks.

Share price jumps 10% after strong first-half results


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