Ryanair Holdings Plc reported an 8 percent drop in third-quarter earnings and said itâ€™s â€œcautiousâ€ about meeting full-year targets as a capacity glut and stuttering economies cause fares to tumble.
Profit after tax fell to 95 million euros ($102 million) in the three months ended Dec. 31 from 103 million euros a year earlier, Dublin-based Ryanair said in a statement on Monday. Analysts had predicted that the figure would be barely changed at 102 million euros, based on eight estimates.
Europeâ€™s biggest low-cost airline saw prices tumble 17 percent in the quarter as it sought to undercut rivals, and said that trend is set to continue. While 12-month profit should still be in the range of 1.3 billion euros to 1.35 billion euros, the company said it canâ€™t be more specific and that any â€œsecurity eventsâ€ impacting near-term bookings could cause it to fall short.
â€œWe are cautious into the balance of the year,â€ Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan said in a phone interview. â€œAny other shocks to the market, be it air traffic control strikes or terrorism, if we were to see any major events than clearly all bets would be off.â€
Shares of Ryanair traded 1 percent lower at 14.62 euros as of 8:05 a.m. in Dublin. Theyâ€™re virtually unchanged this year, valuing the company at almost 17.9 billion euros.
The winter decline in ticket prices was steeper than the 13 to 15 percent previously forecast, though the reductions helped lift Ryanairâ€™s passenger tally 16 percent so that its load factor reached a record 95 percent.
Fourth-quarter yields will decline as much as 15 percent and fares will remain â€œchallengingâ€ into fiscal 2018, the company said, with rivals that have quit Egypt and Tunisia following terror attacks there saturating the market in Portugal, Spain and Italy, according to Sorohan.
Gerald Khoo, an analyst at Liberum in London, said in a note that while Ryanairâ€™s third-quarter profit had fallen short, the carrierâ€™s low cost base means its competitors face â€œgreater pressureâ€ from the fare decline.
Ryanair reiterated that it expects to grow more slowly in the UK than it once planned following the countryâ€™s June 23 vote to quit the European Union.
The company shaved 75 million euros from its profit target in October as the pound fell against the euro in the wake of the referendum result, reducing the value of sterling receipts translated into the single currency. There could still be deals at individual airports like one last month that
will see the operation of nine
new routes from London Stansted,
its biggest base.
Ryanairâ€™s fuel costs fell 20 percent per passenger in the third quarter and a further saving of about 65 million euros is expected for fiscal 2018, with the carrier 85 percent hedged at $49 a barrel. EasyJet Plc, Wizz Air and Deutsche Lufthansa AG have also said that they see the rising oil price doing little to arrest the fall in fares, given hedging positions.
The Irish company lifted its full-year target for unit cost cuts to 4 percent from 3 percent. Sorahan told Bloomberg Television itâ€™s continuing to work on plans to provide feeder traffic to Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA flights and that an agreement should be reached by the summer. A similar accord is under discussion with Italyâ€™s Alitalia SpA.