Morning business news - May 19

Monday 19 May 2014 11.42
Morning business news with Conor Brophy
Morning business news with Conor Brophy

Ryanair has reported a full year net profit of €523m - a drop of 8% but ahead of the airline's guidance. The airline carried just under 82 million passengers and generated €5 billion in revenue, an increase of 3% over the previous financial year. For the year ahead, the airline is predicting a significant uplift in profit to a range of between €580m and €620m. Ryanair will ground fewer aircraft during winter and it also expects average fares to rise by 2% driven by stronger demand. Fares fell 4% over the past 12 months.

Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair's chief marketing officer, says the airline is satisfied with the year's results, noting a good increase in revenues and rising load factors. Mr Jacobs predicts strong growth for the first half of the year, with forward bookings rising ahead of the summer months. However the airline is keeping a cautious outlook on how the second half of the year will pan out, he adds. The airline is predicting that passenger number will rise to almost 85 million in its 2015 fiscal year, with a modest increase in fares to €47. Mr Jacobs points out that the average Ryanair fare of €47 compares to its rivals' average fares of €165 as the airline continues to relentlessly focus on low fares.

On the airline's improved customer experience, Mr Jacobs says Ryanair had listened to their customers who said they wanted improvements including being allowed carry a second bag on board and allocated seating. He said that customers are now seeing a Ryanair that is listening to them. These customer experience changes are delivering tangible benefits to the airline, Mr Jacobs states. "Customers want a more straight-forward Ryanair with better service. That's what they're getting and that's why our outlook for is very strong," he adds.

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MORNING BRIEFS - As expected, Pfizer has increased its offer for rival AstraZeneca. The new bid at £55 a share, up from the previous £50 offer, values the UK company at £69.3 billion (€85 billion). But the improved offer has already been rejected by AstraZeneca's board.

*** Aer Lingus Regional flew 112,000 passengers last month, up 35% on April 2013. The regional service, operated by Stobart Air (the former Aer Arann), saw strong demand for new routes introduced during the year. The April figures, however, are not directly comparable with the same month last year as the busy Easter bank holiday fell in April this year - boosting traffic.

*** Builders merchant and DIY retailer Grafton Group has notified the stock exchange of a new finance facility it has agreed with its banks. The €560m facility is repayable in May 2019. Grafton said the new finance is available on more favourable credit terms than were previously available and will reduce its annual finance charges by almost €4m a year.

*** Swiss voters overwhelmingly rejected proposals that the country adopt what would have been the highest minimum wage in the world. A referendum backed by Swiss unions had offered voters the option to institute a 22 swiss francs, that's €18 an hour, minimum wage.