Tuesday 12 December 2017

Dependable O'Leary's stock soars on back of share surge

Emmet Oliver

In a jumbled up world, it is nice to see that Michael O'Leary remains as dependable as ever.

Year after year O'Leary provides a downbeat earnings forecast and year after year, to absolutely nobody's surprise, he is forced to upgrade it and the shares surge.

As the UK media put it last week Ryanair always issues "deliberately bearish" forecasts, before delivering deliberately bullish results.

Still the shares are up 20pc this year and Irish brokers think they can sprint to €4.30 a share yet, even though the stock is starting to look a little pricey.

O'Leary's great achievement, of course, is not listening to stockbrokers and not listening to most of his shareholders, who regularly tell heim he is following the wrong strategy.

At the start of the downturn, O'Leary's strategy of dropping fares to eliminate competitors, increasing capacity and building market share was castigated by many market observers, who accused him of incinerating shareholder's money.

They also didn't want a new fleet deal with Boeing/Airbus and were very much of the view that Ryanair should stop being a growth stock and start paying them some money.

On that they are getting their wish, with 68c a share to go back to shareholders between now and 2013.

However, it is fortunate they didn't get their wish on the idea of effectively mothballing the company in the downturn. Net profit is set to hit €310m for the full year, reversing a disastrous loss of €169m in the previous period.

O'Leary now has the best of all worlds at the end of this financial year -- lots of cash, virtually no debt, market share gains, a rising share price, buoyant profits and even the odd happy shareholder.

Irish Independent

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