Ferries and freight business Irish Continental Group (ICG) has reported a strong start to the year, with revenues up by over 7% for the first four months of the year, on an annualised basis.
The group owns the Irish Ferries and Eucon brands. It said in a trading update that revenue for the four months to the end of April amounted to €85.1m, 7.3% ahead of the same period last year.
Pre-tax earnings jumped from €3.3m to €10.3m and operating profits nearly doubled to €4.4m. Up to May 9, Irish Ferries carried 94,800 cars, a rise of 8% on the previous year. Total passenger volumes increased by 3%, compared to the previous year, to 418,600.
The early momentum is all the more significant, given that ICG’s business is heavily weighted towards the second half of the year.
Operating costs for the period fell by 1.6%, year- on-year, to €74.8m; mainly reflecting the lower cost of fuel.
Also yesterday ICG announced its award of the services concession for the operation of a combined container terminal at Victoria Terminal 3 in Belfast Harbour. The agreement is for five years with a further three-year option.
In a positive research note, Stephen Furlong of Davy Stockbrokers said: “With volume growth running ahead of our forecasts, we will upgrade our €60m 2015 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation forecast to around €65m based on the strong performance to date. Healthy operating trends and leverage leave ICG very well positioned.”
ICG’s share price was up over 6% yesterday, at €4.25 in late trading.
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