Ryanair's earnings set to fly lower than expected as weak sterling drags down fares

 
Rebecca Smith
Ryanair's chief executive is focusing expansion outside of the UK now
Ryanair's chief executive is focusing expansion outside of the UK now (Source: Getty)

Ryanair has suffered some turbulence post-Brexit, predominantly fuelled by the plummeting sterling, and investors are braced for a bumpy landing in its upcoming results.

Full-year profits expected to grow five per cent lower than previously guided at seven per cent. The revised guidance, provided a couple of weeks ago, reflected weaker sterling with 26 per cent of full-year revenues for 2017 in sterling, resulting in yields falling some 13-15 per cent (compared with the previously guided -10 to -12 per cent).

Analysts at Davy though did emphasise that the earnings cut was driven by sterling and its "business model and free cash flow generation still leaves Ryanair as the stand-out winner in the European airline industry". So, not a bleak picture all round.

Read more: Ryanair warns sterling decline will hit full year profits

The pound hit record lows in the wake of the EU referendum result and has struggled to recoup its losses since then.

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary has said the airline will focus expansion away from its central base in the UK, because of the vote to leave the EU. It's still full steam ahead for growth plans; just not in the UK.

The budget airline recently announced it was expanding - with a new base at Frankfurt airport. That made it the first of the low fare airlines to open one at Germany's biggest airport.

But the chief executive of airport operator Fraport, Dr Stefan Schulte, said it was now "responding to the strong and growing demand in our region for this aviation segment".

Read more: Shareholder group thinks Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary is overpaid

In October, Ryanair announced a major recruitment drive, hiring 2,000 new members of cabin crew, 1,000 pilots and 250 aircraft engineers. The airline told City A.M. it would be spreading the staff throughout its 84-base European network, but there still wouldn't be any additional aircraft in the UK next year.

Instead they'll be allocated to EU airports, while Ryanair's growth rate will reduce from 15 per cent this year to six per cent next year.

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