Inmarsat shares plummet as shrinking earnings fail to impress

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Inmarsat has used SpaceX to launch its satellites (Source: Getty)

Shares in British satellite giant Inmarsat today plummeted after initially rocketing on third-quarter sales growth.

Revenue was up 4.8 per cent to $358.3m over the last three months and 7.8 per cent higher at £1.05bn for the nine months to September.

Inmarsat's aviation division, which facilitates sky-high broadband access for airlines, was the firm's stand out performer, jumping 50 per cent in the quarter and 43 per cent over the year to date to $144m of revenues.

After climbing as much as six per cent in opening trading, the shares subsequently flopped and are currently down over eight per cent on yesterday's closing price.

Maritime operations, the biggest of Inmarsat's five divisions, posted static growth in the quarter and a slight contraction over the last nine months to $421.1m.

Meanwhile, group earnings fell 6.5 per cent over the last three months to $191.3m.

Read more: Challenges and unpredictability aplenty for Inmarsat as shares dip

Many of Inmarsat's European rivals have struggled in recent months and the Islington-headquartered firm has seen around 40 per cent wiped off its stock market since the end of March.

Today, Inmarsat boss Rupert Pearce admitted that "our markets remain challenging and the outlook continues to be difficult to predict".

Pearce added: "We have continued to invest in this significant opportunity, and in our core operational capabilities, albeit at the expense of lower Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation) margins, to ensure that we remain uniquely positioned as the leading operator in global mobility markets."  

Both revenue and earnings were slightly ahead of consensus expectations according to UBS analyst Michael Hill. But Inmarsat did warn its full-year revenue guidance would be slightly lower – $1.275bn down from $1.3bn previously project. Nevertheless, this remained ahead of the $1.263bn pencilled in by analysts beforehand.

Read more: Inmarsat pledges to review its executive pay after sting from shareholders