Monday 24 July 2017

ICG's Rothwell to collect €1.3m dividend

TRANSPORT

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

EAMONN Rothwell, the chief executive of shipping group Irish Continental (ICG), will be one of the single biggest beneficiaries of a decision by the company to resume paying an interim dividend. He will gain about €1.3m as a result.

ICG has not paid an interim dividend since 2006.

Mr Rothwell's windfall -- which will amount to just over €1m after tax -- comes on top of an almost €4m pre-tax dividend that he received in June in respect of the company's 2010 financial year.

He owns about 16pc of the company, which operates as Irish Ferries.

Irish Continental made its announcement of an interim dividend yesterday as it released first-half results that were described by analysts as solid, given the tough economic environment.

ICG said that in the first six months of the year revenue rose 3.4pc to €126.6m but earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell 19.5pc to €16.1m. Operating profit slumped 26.1pc to €6.5m.

The number of passengers carried by the group, which operates vessels across the Irish Sea and between Rosslare and Cherbourg, declined 3.6pc to 670,500, while the number of cars carried fell 3.1pc to 151,600.

The company blamed tougher comparatives for at least part of the fall, although the closure of Irish airspace in April and May of last year proved a boon for ICG. It added that although car volumes were down, higher yields had been achieved during the period.

However, in July and August -- typically two of ICG's busiest months -- overall car volumes dropped by 7pc on the Irish Sea. Passenger numbers were in line with those in the comparable 2010 period.

The freight division fared better, with roll-on/roll-off volumes rising 12pc in the first six months to 97,000 units. Freight revenue climbed 10.7pc to €25.9m. ICG said the volume increase was due to overall reduced capacity on the central corridor of the Irish Sea, rather than any significant improvement in overall trends.

Freight

Competitor DFDS also exited the Irish freight market earlier this year.

ICG's fuel bill continued to rise during the period, increasing from €20.1m in the first six months of 2010 to €24.4m in the first half of this year.

Chairman John McGuckian described the results as "resilient", given the economic conditions and high fuel prices.

"The economic outlook remains challenging, with austerity programmes affecting both consumer demand for travel and freight markets, but we are structured to compete and to continue to generate cash notwithstanding this backdrop," he added.

Analyst Stephen Furlong at Davy Stockbrokers said that despite what he described as "robust" figures, he was likely to pare his full-year EBITDA forecast for ICG by about 10pc to between €49m and €50m.

Irish Independent

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