Irish Continental Group performed strongly during 2017, although fuel costs and a weaker Sterling, driven down by Brexit uncertainty, caused earnings to fall by three per cent.
In its newly-announced results for the year, the Irish Ferries' owner reported three per cent revenue growth to €335.1 million on the back of volume growth across the group's operations. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation fell to €81 million.
Chairman John B McGuckian said the year as a successful one before noting group fuel costs increased by 25.2 per cent to €40.3 million.
Early in the financial year Irish Continental sold its MV Kaitaki which yielded a profit after tax of €24.9 million and subsequently sold its Jonathan Swift vessel.
The company has since into an agreement for a new 55,000 tonne ferry, to be named the W.B Yeats, costing €165.2 million, that will be delivered to the group in 2020.
The company's EBITDA performance was ahead of analyst expectations while profit before tax increased by 45 per cent to €87.8 million.
Additionally, the company has moved from a €37.9 million net debt position in 2016 to a net cash position of €39.6 million last year.
Irish continental operates in two divisions; the ferries division which offers passenger and roll-on roll-off freight services, and the container and terminal division.
the overall car market to and from Ireland grew by around 1.7 per cent in 2017 to 807,400 cars. Irish Ferries' car carryings 'performed strongly, up 2.4 per cent to 424,000 cars.
The company carried 1.65 million passengers in the period, up 1.7 per cent, while Ro Ro freight volumes were up 0.5 per cent to 287,500 units .
The final dividend was 8.15 cents, up five per cent.