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EasyJet says profit at top end of forecasts

London

EASYJET Plc said earnings for the year through September were towards the top end of its forecasts, helped by strikes at British Airways and Ryanair Holdings Plc.

The unrest at EasyJet's biggest rivals spurred demand and sent revenue per seat, a proxy for fares, up 0.8 per cent in the second half despite earlier predictions of a slide, the Luton, England-based carrier said in a statement on Tuesday.

The figures weren't enough to quell investor concerns that EasyJet had relied too much on disruption elsewhere, and that it faces tough times in an operating environment that has seen a spate of travel-company collapses this year. The shares fell the most since May.

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Chief executive officer Johan Lundgren said forward bookings for 2020 are in line with a year ago and that capacity growth will be at the lower end of the historic range, something that should further bolster fares. Efforts to curb delays and cancellations in poor weather or technical glitches are also bearing fruit.

Sanford C Bernstein analyst Daniel Roeska said in a note that the full-year numbers were in line with his estimates but that it's not clear how well EasyJet would have performed without a helping hand from the BA and Ryanair strikes and the collapse last month of Thomas Cook Group Plc.

The stock fell as much as 5.8 per cent on Tuesday and was trading 4.7 per cent lower at 1,117 pence at 8.23am in London. The shares are barely changed for the year, valuing EasyJet at £4.44 billion (S$7.5 billion).

EasyJet and its peers should continue to gain from the exit of weaker operators, Damian Brewer, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in a note to clients. Demand is poised to exceed capacity this winter, he said, spurring an increase in fares after a period of sustained oversupply.

EasyJet said 12-month pre-tax profit was between £420 million and £430 million, after earlier predicting £400 million to £440 million. The carrier reported a profit of £578 million in fiscal 2019. BLOOMBERG