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Luxury W.B. Yeats ferry helps boost ICG earnings

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Fleet: The W.B. Yeats luxury cruise ferry entered service in January 2019

Fleet: The W.B. Yeats luxury cruise ferry entered service in January 2019

Fleet: The W.B. Yeats luxury cruise ferry entered service in January 2019

Irish Ferries operator, Irish Continental Group (ICG), said improved schedule reliability and the introduction of the W.B. Yeats luxury cruise ferry helped it increase earnings by 27pc to €86.6m last year.

The W.B. Yeats entered service in January 2019.

Revenue increased €27.2m (8.2pc) to €357.4m, according to ICG's annual results.

The group's earnings figure also benefited from the implementation of accounting standard IFRS16.

ICG bought two additional container ships during 2019. The Thetis D was purchased in April for €12.4m, followed by the CT Rotterdam November for €8.2m.

In April 2019, the group entered into a bareboat hire purchase agreement for the sale of the Oscar Wilde to MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, for a total gross consideration of €28.9m to be paid in instalments over six years.

The profit in 2019 from this sale was €14.9m.

"2019 was a successful year for the group, with material growth across both divisions. 2019 saw a number of our longer-term strategic goals met," said ICG chairman John B McGuckian.

"We look forward in 2020 to another year of growth across our businesses and further progress in meeting our long-term strategic goals."

The company said any slowdown in either economy as a result of the exit of the UK from the European Union will likely have an effect on Irish Ferries carryings.

ICG said the deployment of the W.B. Yeats on the Dublin to Cherbourg route has already added "significant capacity" to the direct continental services.

This will lessen the effect of any port delays which might occur in the short-term on Irish Sea services while new cross-border procedures with the UK settle in, the company said.

Meanwhile, ICG said the group is continuing to monitor the evolving coronavirus situation and work closely with all relevant authorities.

Stephen Furlong, analyst at Davy Stockbrokers, said it was a "strong performance" from the group.

"While there have been some weather-related operational issues in the early part of the current year, we would expect to broadly keep our €99m Ebitda forecast," he said.

"ICG remains very well strategically positioned to deliver shareholder returns in the years ahead," he said.

Irish Independent