Ferry group ICG's profit forecasts increased by analysts as busy summer buoys trading
Revenue at ferry operator Irish Continental rose 10.3pc to €93.4m during the third quarter as it experienced what it called "encouraging" trading.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) advanced 4.4pc to €28.1m in the period. Group revenue for the nine months to the end of September was €224.1m, up 9pc on the corresponding period in 2013.
EBITDA for the first nine months was €42.1m. That was flat on the first nine months of 2013 and reflected the additional operational costs of a new vessel, the Epsilon, which was introduced in late 2013.
The third quarter of the year is the busiest for Irish Continental, which is headed by chief executive Eamonn Rothwell, and which carries passengers under the Irish Ferries brand.
"Summer trading has been encouraging across most business areas, with volume and revenue growth in the passenger, car and Roll on Roll Off (RoRo) segments, partially offset by weaker container freight volumes," it said.
Between July 1 and November 15, the company carried 8pc more passengers, while car numbers rose 11pc.
In the 46 weeks to November 15, total passenger numbers were 5pc higher at just over 1.5 million, while the number of cars carried rose 9pc to 347,200.
In the RoRo freight market, volumes at Irish Ferries jumped 26pc between July and November, but container freight volumes were down 4pc at 105,000 teus (the standard container freight measure), due to lower feeder traffic, according to Irish Continental.
Analyst Stephen Furlong at Davy Stockbrokers said the performance of Irish Continental during the third quarter was "strong".
"Overall, this is a very good performance," he said, pointing out that if the growth from adding the new Epsilon is stripped out, underlying growth in the RoRo segment is between 6pc and 7pc.
He said that as a result of the performance and lower fuel prices, Davy Stockbrokers will increase its EBITDA forecasts for the current full-year to €48.5m from €47m.
It will also increase its EBITDA forecasts for Irish Continental for next year by about 5pc to €53.5m.
Goodbody Stockbrokers analyst Jack Diskin said he's also poised to upgrade Irish Continental's profit forecasts on the back of the strong trading and lower fuel prices.
"We anticipate a strong level of cash flow growth in the next number of years," he added.
Shares in Irish Continental, which have fallen recently, were trading up 1.6pc yesterday afternoon. They've risen about 27pc in the past year.