Ryanair posts record annual profit, pessimistic on year ahead

Europe’s largest low-cost carrier booked a record €1.45 billion profit after tax in its financial year to March 31, up 10 percent year-on-year. (Reuters)
Updated 21 May 2018
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Ryanair posts record annual profit, pessimistic on year ahead

DUBLIN: Ryanair posted a record annual profit on Monday as it brushed off a rostering mess-up that forced it to cancel flights and sparked a dispute with pilots, but warned profits would fall back in the coming year due to higher costs and no fare growth.
Ryanair canceled 20,000 flights in September as an emergency measure to free up enough standby pilots to ensure the smooth operation of its fleet of 400 planes for the remainder of the year.
The cancelations sparked a wave of bad publicity and forced Ryanair to cut its growth plans for the first time in years. It has insisted this is a temporary measure and its long-term growth target remains intact.
Europe’s largest low-cost carrier booked a record €1.45 billion profit after tax in its financial year to March 31, up 10 percent year-on-year and slightly ahead of an average forecast of €1.44 billion in a company poll of analysts.
However, it said it expected to make a profit after tax of between €1.25 billion and €1.35 billion for the coming financial year, lower than the €1.37 billion expected on average by the analysts forecast.
While Ryanair expects to grow traffic by 7 percent to 139 million passengers, up on the 138 million last forecast, unit costs are expected to rise by 9 percent due to higher staff and oil prices with revenue from ancillary products unlikely to grow fast enough to fully offset this and broadly flat fares.
“Our outlook for FY19 is on the pessimistic side of cautious,” Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said in a statement.
“Forward bookings are strong but pricing remains soft. While still too early to accurately forecast close-in summer bookings or H2 fares, we are cautiously guiding broadly flat average fares for FY19,” O’Leary said.
The pessimistic tone was in contrast to rival EasyJet, Europe’s second-biggest low-cost airline, which said last week that it expects profits to rise more than 30 percent this year as it benefits from strong travel demand and the collapse of some smaller rivals.
The Irish carrier averted the threat of widespread Christmas strikes by unilaterally recognizing unions in December for the first time in its 32-year history, but it has struggled to formalize relations in some countries.
It has warned it may face some disruption to flights during the summer months.


Oil drops as Iran signals support for OPEC production rise

Updated 7 min 19 sec ago
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Oil drops as Iran signals support for OPEC production rise

  • Prices were prevented from dropping further by robust US fuel demand seen in record refinery runs, strong travel data and a large decline in crude inventories
  • Beyond the short-term, Barclays said there were headwinds for oil prices

SINGAPORE: Oil prices fell on Thursday as Iran signaled it could be won over to a small rise in OPEC crude output, potentially paving the way for the producer cartel to agree a supply increase during a meeting on Friday.
However, prices were prevented from dropping further by robust US fuel demand seen in record refinery runs, strong travel data and a large decline in crude inventories.
Brent crude futures were at $74.33 per barrel at 0426 GMT, down 41 cents, or 0.55 percent, from their last close.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $65.50 a barrel, down 21 cents, or 0.3 percent.
Iran, a major supplier within the producer cartel of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), signaled on Wednesday it could agree on a small increase in the group’s output during a meeting to be held at OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna on June 22 together with non-OPEC member but top producer Russia.
“There appears to be an air of confidence that this deal will move through,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore.
“We expect OPEC and Russia to gradually add supplies back to the market by next year, mostly offsetting the almost 1 million barrels per day (bpd) supply disruption in Venezuela,” Barclays bank said.
Tehran had previously resisted pressure by OPEC’s de-facto leader Saudi Arabia to raise output.
Even with Iran appearing to fall in line, analysts do not expect a harmonious OPEC meeting.
“Our expectations are for a tense, discordant and highly geopolitical OPEC+ meeting,” said Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group in a note to clients.
OPEC, together with other key producers including Russia, started withholding output in 2017 to prop up prices, but a tightening market in 2018 led to calls by major consumers for more supplies.
In a sign of strong demand, US refineries processed a seasonal record of 17.7 million bpd of crude oil last week, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
This comes as a record 46.9 million Americans are expected to travel during the upcoming July 4 holiday, according to the American Automobile Association on Thursday, which is seen as a leading indicator for US fuel demand.
Amid healthy consumption, commercial US crude inventories dropped by 5.9 million barrels in the week to June 15, to 426.53 million barrels, the EIA said.
US crude oil production was flat week-on-week, remaining at a record 10.9 million bpd.
Beyond the short-term, Barclays said there were headwinds for oil prices.
“Deleveraging in China and a weakening in the narrative around synchronous global economic growth are likely to add headwinds for all commodities,” it said.