Ryanair flies into the black after profit triples to €319m
Ryanair surged into the black in its last financial year as pre-exceptional profit tripled to nearly €319m and it confirmed the planned payment this October of a €500m dividend to shareholders -- the first time in the airline's 25-year history that such a payment is being made.
The airline is also intending to make a further dividend payment of €500m in 2013 if it doesn't ink a deal by next year to buy more aircraft.
Given that Ryanair and Boeing pulled the plug late last year on fraught negotiations for 100 firm aircraft orders and 100 options, it is almost a certainty that the additional money will be handed over to shareholders.
Deputy chief executive Michael Cawley said Ryanair wasn't actively pursuing additional negotiations with Boeing, but also added that shareholders shouldn't have an expectation of additional dividend payments beyond 2013.
Ryanair's profits jumped after it continued to reduce overall unit costs, excluding fuel, by 3pc during its 2010 financial year and fuel costs slumped 29pc to €894m.
Total revenue rose 2pc to €2.94bn for the year, with ancillary revenues climbing nearly 11pc to €663m. Those ancillary revenues are generated from anything from cups of tea sold to passengers to baggage charges.
Profits were ahead of analyst and the airline's own previous expectations. In February, Ryanair boosted its full-year profit guidance from the low end of a €200m-€300m range to about €275m for period.
By April, Ryanair had been pencilling in a figure of not less than €310m. Ryanair is typically conservative in its outlook, however. It is forecasting pre-exceptional net profit of between €350m and €375m for the current financial year.
The airline, which also owns almost 30pc of Aer Lingus, wrote down the value of its stake in the former state-owned carrier by an additional €13.5m last year. It impaired the stake by over €222m the previous year, a move that propelled Ryanair to a €169m loss for the period.
Mr Cawley said Ryanair was in discussions with 10 airports around Europe that wanted the airline to establish a base at their facilities. He said that Ryanair was likely to carry 85 million passengers by 2013. That's significantly lower than a previous 100 million target the airline's chief executive Michael O'Leary said would be achieved by 2012.
Mr Cawley said the 100 million figure could be almost reached if Ryanair decided not to proceed with plans to sell six aircraft and cancel leases on a further 20. "It wasn't a bad shot," he said, referring to the previous passenger forecast.
Mr Cawley said that Ryanair's average fares would rise by between 5pc and 10pc in the current fiscal period, but that that was on the back of a 20pc decline in average fares over the past two years.
Shares in Ryanair closed up 4.4pc in Dublin at €3.53.