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Ryanair profits rise but uncertainty clouds second half

Ryanair said underlying first half profits rose 37% to €1.1m

ryanair-aircraft-(7).jpg
This winter Ryanair will open four bases in Berlin, Corfu, Gothenburg & Milan

Budget airline Ryanair (LON:RYA) predicted better-than-expected annual profits but warned they would depend on a good end-of-year performance.

Ryanair said underlying first half profits rose 37% to €1.1m thanks to stronger sterling, adverse weather in northern Europe, reasonably flat industry capacity and more savings on unhedged fuel.

Traffic rose 13% to 58m, the load factor - how full its aircraft were - lifted four points to 93%, average fares increased 2% to €56 and unit costs fell 6%.

It said it now expected full-year net profit before exceptionals to be towards the upper end of its €1,175m to €1,225m range.

This winter Ryanair will open four bases in Berlin, Corfu, Gothenburg & Milan and 119 new routes including a four-daily Dublin - Amsterdam route, a six-daily Cologne-Berlin service, and three routes to Eilat Ovda in Israel from Budapest, Kaunas and Krakow.

But Ryanair said that, as forward pricing had softened in recent weeks, it expected third quarter average fares to be broadly flat against last year and fourth quarter fares to dip 4%.

Chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "This guidance is heavily dependent on the strength of close-in bookings in the fourth quarter, where we have almost zero visibility yet are planning to deliver 22% traffic growth.

"Looking beyond the current year, based on these stronger-than-expected load factors, we have raised our long-term traffic target from 160m to 180m customers per annum by FY24."

Shares in Ryanair fell €0.01 to €13.48.

Keith Bowman at Hargreaves Lansdown said: "In all, Ryanair’s ascent in comparison to former flag carrying competitors shows little sign of slowing.

"New bases and routes continue to be undertaken, the group’s stranglehold on costs is now the template rivals aspire to, while the group remains in a key position to lead future industry consolidation.

"For now, and following an 80% plus gain in the share price over the last year, some early profit taking comes as no surprise, although analyst opinion remains firmly anchored to a buy."

Quick facts: Ryanair

Price: €9.89

Market: LSE
Market Cap: €11.01 billion
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