Qantas soars to record profit, unveils buyback amid rosy outlook

The ‘Flying Kangaroo’, which controls nearly two-thirds of Australia’s domestic market, has pushed average domestic ticket prices to their highest levels in almost a decade while trimming capacity. (Reuters)
Updated 22 February 2018
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Qantas soars to record profit, unveils buyback amid rosy outlook

SYDNEY: Australia’s Qantas Airways said half-year profit jumped to a record on cost cuts and hikes in domestic fares — which combined with a share buyback sent its stock bounding higher.
The results are the latest in a slew of robust earnings for the aviation sector and Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was upbeat about future earnings prospects, noting that Australia’s all-important resources sector was growing for the first time in three years.
“We’ve a lot of work to do to maintain it, but if we deliver on that work I have no doubt that the company can keep on maintaining this kind of performance,” he told a news conference.
It also outlined plans for its own pilot academy to address a severe pilot shortage globally. The academy will start next year and aims to train 500 pilots a year when fully established.
The “Flying Kangaroo”, which controls nearly two-thirds of Australia’s domestic market, has pushed average domestic ticket prices to their highest levels in almost a decade while trimming capacity.
At the same time, demand has gathered pace. In addition to the pick-up in the resources sector, Joyce said growth in the financial services, construction and infrastructure sectors were driving business travel demand. Leisure demand was also strong, with international tourist numbers at record highs.
Underlying profit before tax, its most closely watched measure, surged 15 percent to A$976 million ($760 million) for the six months ending December 31, its best result for a first-half and around 3 percent higher than the top of its own guidance. Domestic revenue jumped by a fifth.
Investors also cheered a A$378 million buyback, sending its shares up as much as 10 percent, their biggest daily gain in three years. They last traded 6 percent higher.
“Capacity and capital discipline at a time where demand growth remains robust is driving the stock and its outlook,” said Sondal Bensan, an analyst at Qantas’ biggest shareholder, BT Investment Management wrote in an email.
” next leg will be in the international business that has been held back the past two years,” he said.
Other airlines and aviation firms are also basking in better times for the industry.
Also reporting on Thursday, Air New Zealand said it was destined for its second-highest annual profit ever on the back of a tourism boom.
Flight Center Travel Group, Australia’s biggest listed travel agency, sent its shares to a record high after beating half-year profit expectations and lifting its guidance. Its online rival Webjet saw it stock rocket 15 percent higher as revenue more than tripled.
Last week Singapore Airlines said it had lifted its quarterly profit by almost two-thirds as passenger numbers and cargo revenues rose.
Qantas also confirmed the purchase of 18 long-range Airbus A331LRneo aircraft for budget arm Jetstar.


Iran says no OPEC member can take over its share of oil exports -SHANA

Updated 19 August 2018
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Iran says no OPEC member can take over its share of oil exports -SHANA

  • Senior Iranian diplomat urges OPEC’s secretary general to keep the group away from the political agenda of some members
  • Iran has asked OPEC to support it against new US sanctions

LONDON: A senior Iranian diplomat urged OPEC’s secretary general to keep the group away from the political agenda of some members and said none should be allowed to take over another’s share of its oil exports, Tehran’s oil ministry news agency said on Sunday.
“No country is allowed to take over the share of other members for production and exports of oil under any circumstance, and the OPEC Ministerial Conference has not issued any license for such actions,” SHANA quoted Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s permanent envoy to Vienna-based international organizations was quoted as saying.
Iran has asked OPEC to support it against new US sanctions and signalled it is not yet in agreement with Saudi Arabia’s views on the possible need to increase global oil supplies.