Choppy results at ICG as delays hit earnings
Delays to the delivery of a ferry, technical difficulties and increasing fuel charges contributed to a 12pc fall in earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) at ICG in the six months to June 30.
Earnings before interest and tax, including non-trading items, fell 37.8pc to €30.1m, while profit before tax fell to €29.7m from €47.5m the previous year, the group behind Irish Ferries said in a trading update.
However, revenue increased marginally by 0.7pc to €157.2m during the period.
Despite the difficult start to the year, Davy Stockbrokers analyst Stephen Furlong said that the group was in a "strong strategic position".
"We are likely to broadly retain our financial 2018 ebitda forecasts of €68m, rebounding in financial year 2019 to €91m," Mr Furlong said.
"We see recent difficulties as a buying opportunity."
This year ICG has been hit by the delay in the delivery of its new ferry, the WB Yeats, which has resulted in thousands of holidaymakers left inconvenienced and out of pocket.
Also, technical difficulties on ICG's flagship Ulysses reduced its fleet capacity in June and into July this year.
Meanwhile, fuel costs increased €2.8m (14.3pc) during the six months to €22.4m.
ICG chairman John B McGuckian described the performance as "resilient".
"This performance for the first half of the financial year is underpinned by increased freight volumes and good volume growth in the container and terminal division," he said.
"While our first-half ebitda is down €3.5m on the same period in the prior year, it should be noted that this is principally due to the reduced chartering income in the group following the sale of the Kaitaki and Jonathan Swift, which were sold for a combined total of €60.5m in cash.
"Summer trading has been difficult for the ferries division principally due to technical difficulties on the flagship Ulysses and the late delivery of the WB Yeats."
The group's interim dividend increased 5pc year-on-year to 4.21 cent.
Yesterday, shares in the group were trading up 1.5pc on the Irish Stock Exchange.