Ryanair FY net profit up 19 pct; sees 'more stable' yields


LONDON (XFNews) - Ryanair Holdings PLC, the Dublin-based no-frills airline,

has reported a better-than-expected 19 pct increase in full year net profit

to a record level and said yields or average fares should be "more stable"

in the current year.

The carrier said advance bookings for the summer months are "strong" and raised its traffic growth forecast for the year to end-March 2006 from 34 mln, a 23 pct increase, to 35 mln, a rise of 27 pct.

"We continue to budget for higher oil prices, but anticipate that these higher costs will be partially offset by a slightly more benign yield environment," said chief executive Michael O'Leary.

"If our competitors continue to maintain [fuel] surcharges or continue to remove capacity from our markets then yields should be more stable, even as we continue to expand."

Deputy chief executive told AFX News O'Leary's statement should be interpreted as the airline predicting "more or less" flat yields for the current year.

He noted that all the major flag carriers have cut and are continuing to cut short haul capacity.

"They've all cut either routes entirely, or frequencies, or the size of aircraft," he said. "More and more they they are looking at their numbers saying 'we can't make money in short haul'."

Ryanair is unhedged for the remainder of the summer but has hedged 75 pct of next winter's fuel requirement at 47 usd a barrel.

For the year to March 31 2005 Ryanair made an adjusted profit after tax (net profit) of 268.9 mln eur, up from 226.6 mln eur last time.

Revenue was up 24 pct to 1.34 bln eur driven by a 19 pct increase in passengers to 27.6 mln and a 40 pct rise in ancillary revenues -- car hire, hotels, travel insurance and in-flight sales.

Yields were up 2 pct, having fallen 14 pct in the previous year, despite a 16 pct increase in capacity, while operating costs rose 25 pct, reflecting higher fuel costs. Adjusted after tax margin fell 1 pct to 20 pct.

Adjusted profit after tax for the year to March 31 2004 excludes the non-recurring costs of 14.9 mln eur arising from the earlier than planned retirement of 6 Boeing 737-200 aircraft, the reorganisation of 'Buzz' in April 2003 of 2.7 mln eur and a goodwill charge of 2.3 mln eur. The goodwill charge for the year to March 31 2005 was 2.1 mln eur.

Basic earnings per share on the same basis increased 18 pct to 35.38 cents. Pretax profit increased to 295.9 mln eur from 228.5 mln eur.

"Our robust trading performance over the past 12 months, despite intense competition and significantly higher oil prices reaffirms the strength of Ryanair's lowest cost model in Europe," said O'Leary.

"While many airlines recorded losses, Ryanair increased after tax profits for the winter half year by 33 pct to 67.6 mln eur, while our year-end cash balances increased to 1.61 bln eur, equating to 121 pct of annual revenues."

Ryanair flagged that ancillary sales will continue to "significantly outstrip" passenger traffic growth, and anticipates its aircraft and airport deals will continue to have a downward impact on operating costs.

Cawley said around 60 new routes/increased frequencies will be announced in the coming weeks for the winter season.

To celebrate its record results Ryanair has launched a "50 pct off our lowest fares" seat sale.

For the current year to end-March 2006 analysts are forecasting an operating profit of about 346 mln eur.

Meanwhile, Ryanair revealed it plans legal action to prevent the Dublin Airport Authority from building a second terminal at Dublin airport and said it will continue to lobby against BAA PLC's "grandiose" plans at Stansted Airport for a "gold-plated" second runway.

At 9.37 am shares in Ryanair were up 0.22 cents at 6.31 eur.

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