Profits double at Irish Ferries group as fuel bill drops and sterling soars
Growth in freight and passenger numbers have helped Irish Continental Group, which operates the Irish Ferries network, more than double its operating profits during the first half the year to €16.4m.
Lower fuel prices - a big component of the ferry firm's operating costs - have also benefited the group.
Revenue at the company, headed by chief executive Eamonn Rothwell, rose 9.5pc to €143.1m during the first six months of the year - typically the quietest period for the operator.
Chairman John McGuckian said trading momentum in the summer period - not included in the results - had been strong.
He said that earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) - which rose 82.1pc to €25.5m in the period - had been boosted by increased roll-on/roll-off freight volumes, car volumes, lower fuel bills and the relative strength of sterling.
Its group fuel bill fell 22pc to €20.8m in the period. While oil prices fell, the decline was offset by a stronger dollar and the consumption of more expensive fuels on part of its route network to comply with new EU environmental regulations. ICG doesn't hedge its fuel costs.
It carried 161,600 cars in the first six months of 2015, up 7.1pc on the first six months of 2014. The number of passengers rose 2.6pc to 701,600, while the number of roll-on/roll-off freight trucks carried was 11.5pc higher at 131,700.
The amount of container traffic carried by the group edged slightly lower.
ICG said that its Irish Ferries division operated 2,500 sailings in the first six months of the year. Revenue at the division rose 11.3pc to €86.5m, while EBITDA almost doubled to €20m. Operating profit at the unit more than quadrupled to €12.3m. The division also has a vessel on charter to KiwiRail in New Zealand.
ICG's container and terminal division includes the Eucon shipping line, as well as container terminals in Dublin and Belfast.
Revenue at the division rose 6.5pc to €57.2m in the period, while EBITDA was 48pc higher at €5.5m. ICG said the number of containers shipped during the period was largely flat due to route reconfigurations.
The ferry group noted that from July 1 to August 22 - its key summer trading period - total passenger numbers were up 1pc, while the number of cars carried was 4pc higher.
The amount of roll-on/roll-off freight carried rose 8pc.
"In the absence of unforeseen circumstances, the outlook for the remainder of the year is for a continuation of business momentum seen to date but with some easing in both car and Ro-Ro freight volume growth rates due to the more established patterns of 'Epsilon' carryings in the second half of last year," according to the company.
Epsilon is a vessel ICG introduced to its fleet in 2013.
82pc Rise in EBITDA to €25.5m in first half
€143.1m First-half revenue, a 9.5pc rise
€20.8m Fuel bill - a 22pc fall