Ryanair Holdings Plc (RYA) upgraded its full-year profit goal for the third time this year, saying that any slowdown in the European economy could push people in its direction as efforts to attract business passengers pay off.
Annual profit after tax for the 12 months to March 31 will be in the range of €810 million to €830 million, compared with €750 million to €770 million predicted just four weeks ago, Europe’s No. 1 discount carrier said in a statement today. The company also raised its full-year traffic target 1% to just over 90 million.
Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary has refined Ryanair’s no-frills model to draw in corporate clients as he targets a return to annual profit growth following the first decline in five years in fiscal 2014. There’s no indication that a slowing economy will clip discount demand and it will most likely play in the carrier’s favor, he said last month.
Ryanair rose as much as 53 cents, or 6.1%, to €9.25, and traded at €9.21 at 8:01 a.m. in Dublin. The stock has gained 47€ this year, putting it on track for its best annual return since 2005.
Load factor performance for city pairs including Dublin to Brussels and London Stansted to Gdansk “materially exceeded,” targets, the Dublin-based carrier said in the statement. Full-year targets are still dependent on fourth-quarter bookings and yields “over which it presently has very little visibility,” Ryanair added.
November traffic gained 22% to 6.35 million passengers, with load factors rising 7% to 88%, the airline said. Seat capacity was up 13% for the month from a year earlier.
“The load factor growth clearly catches the eye and this is an impressive month of trading,” Nomura analyst James Hollins said in a note to investors today.