Ryanair reports Q3 profit of €49 million: guidance rises to €840-850 million – Announces €400 million share buy§back programme starting in February

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Ryanair today (2 Feb) announced a Q3 net profit of €49m (compared to p.y. Q3 loss of €35m).  Traffic grew 14% to 21m customers as ave fare rose 2% to €40.  Revenues grew 17% to €1,132m while unit costs fell 6% (ex-fuel flat).  Load Factors rose 6% points from 82% to 88% thanks to the continuing success of Ryanair’s “Always Getting Better” customer programme and its significantly expanded winter schedule.

 

 

Q3 Results (IFRS)

 

31 Dec,2013

 

31 Dec,2014

 

Change

Customers 18.3 20.8 +14%
Revenue €964m €1,132m +17%
Net Profit/ (loss) (€35m) €49m +€84m
Basic EPS (€ cent) (2.50) 3.53 +6.03

 

Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, said:

 

As 2015 will be Ryanair’s 30th year of bringing low fares to Europe, we are pleased to report a Q3 profit of €49m.  These strong results confirm that our “Always Getting Better” customer programme and our expanded business schedules, coupled with our substantial fare and cost advantage over competitor airlines is drawing millions of new customers to Ryanair.

 

Key milestones in the 3rd quarter include:

 

  • Net profit €49m, (up €84m from p.y. Q3 loss of €35m)
  • Traffic up 14%, load factor up 6% points to 88%
  • More primary airports and city pairs in expanded winter schedule
  • Summer 2015 schedule loaded 2 months earlier
  • US web site launched under our AGB programme.
  • First 5 of 380 new B737-800 aircraft delivered

 

Our balance sheet remains one of the strongest in the industry with gross cash of €4.1bn and a net cash balance of €447m.

 

New Routes and Bases:

Our new winter routes and bases are performing well.  Our significantly expanded winter schedule, which includes more primary airports, city pairs and business friendly frequencies has converted millions of new customers to flying Ryanair.  3 new bases in Bratislava, Copenhagen and Ponta Delgada (Azores) will open in March/April with the benefit of stronger than expected forward bookings as the Ryanair low fare brand is already well known in these countries.

 

As our new aircraft delivery programme gathers pace, we are now able to capitalise on significant growth opportunities that are available to Ryanair’s low fares across Europe.  Our New Routes team are meeting with existing and new airports to finalise allocations of our growing fleet for the winter 2015 schedule.  As many primary airports suffer capacity and traffic cuts from Europe’s flag carriers, the growth incentives being offered to Ryanair continue to improve.

 

30th Birthday in 2015:

May 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of Ryanair’s first flight from Waterford to London Gatwick.  Over this 30 year period Ryanair has revolutionised air travel for European consumers/visitors by carrying over 750m customers at our very low fares while encouraging a number of other imitators in Europe (although none of these have been able to match Ryanair’s unique low prices).  We are Europe’s original, and still its lowest fare airline.  Ryanair has grown to become Europe’s largest international passenger airline and we now expect to carry 100m customers in 2015/16 becoming the first EU airline to ever carry over 100m customers in one year.  2015 will see a number of events and special promotional fares to celebrate the 30th birthday of low fares in Europe.

 

Always Getting Better Programme:

2015 will also be the 2nd year of Ryanair’s “Always Getting Better” programme, under which we continue to improve our customer experience and transform our mobile and digital platforms.  In January we opened a US web site (www.ryanair.com/us) making it simpler for millions of American visitors to explore Europe with Ryanair’s low fares.  The next big upgrade of our mobile app is scheduled for April.  The Ryanair Labs team is now working to identify and deliver exciting new services for our customers, which will be rolled out during 2015.

 

In October Amadeus became our latest GDS partner.  Ryanair’s Business Plus service and our high frequency winter schedules between many of Europe’s major business cities are now visible to travel agents and corporate travel departments across Europe, making it easier for business customers to substantially cut their travel budgets while enjoying the reliability of Ryanair’s industry leading on-time performance and customer service.

 

Hedging:

We have taken advantage of recent dips in oil prices to further extend our fuel hedges into FY17.  We are 90% hedged for FY15 at $95 pbl and FY16 at $92 pbl and are 35% hedged in FY17 at approx. $68 pbl.  Our US$ op-ex is 90% hedged at $1.33 in FY16, and 60% hedged at $1.21 in FY17.  If current rates continue this would deliver an indicative reduction in our fuel cost per passenger of approx. 8% in FY16 and approx. 16% in FY17.  Our capex programme is fully hedged to September 2017 at a rate of $1.35, which locks in significantly lower cost aircraft deliveries over the next 2 years.

 

Shareholder Returns:

A €520m special dividend (€0.375 per share) will be paid on 27 February.  The shares go “ex-dividend” on 12 February.  The dividend timetable is available on ryanair.com.

 

In light of our improved profitability and cash flows the Board has now approved a €400m share buy-back programme to commence on 12 Feb next.  This systemic programme will, subject to market conditions, be executed over a 6 month period from Feb to August 2015.

 

IAG-Aer Lingus:

We have noted the recent announcements made by both IAG and Aer Lingus on the subject of 3 proposals made by IAG to acquire Aer Lingus, and also the statement made by the Board of Aer Lingus plc “that the financial returns are at a level which it would be willing to recommend” subject to various conditions being met.

 

Since Ryanair has received no formal approach, or offer for our shares in Aer Lingus, we will not engage in any speculation about this proposal, other than to restate our position which is that the Board of Ryanair will carefully consider any such offer, should one be received, from IAG or any other party, in due course.

 

Full Year Guidance:

As previously guided full year traffic will rise to just over 90m as load factors rise to 87%.  Q4 traffic is expected to grow approx. 25% but ave fares will fall by -6% to -8% as we use lower fares to expand our network and develop our business schedules.  We have noticed a softening in prices for forward bookings during the first weeks of January.  FY unit costs will fall by 5% due to lower oil prices (on our unhedged 10%) and these stronger load factors.  As a result we are raising our FY net profit guidance (was €810m-€830m) to a range of €840m-€850m.

 

Cautionary Outlook:

We would counsel shareholders and analysts to temper expectations for FY16.  While we are still finalising our budget, we believe that any growth in profits will be modest as our fuel is hedged at $92 pbl whereas some competitors (whose weak balance sheets rendered them unable to hedge forward) will be significant beneficiaries of lower oil prices and this may lead to downward pressure on airfares in 2015/16.  Ryanair’s over-riding strategy remains, to be “load factor active – yield passive” so it is important that analysts are mindful of this likely increased price competition when revising their forecasts.  As lower oil prices kick in over the next two years, Ryanair intends to pass on much, if not all, of these savings to our rapidly growing customer base in the form of lower fares and therefore our profit growth expectations will be modest in FY16.”

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