Stagecoach profit drives forward

City A.M. Reporter
TRANSPORT group Stagecoach posted a 43 per cent rise in first-half profit, driven by growing ticket sales across its bus and rail operations, and said the positive trend had continued into the second half.

The bus and rail operator on Wednesday reported a pretax profit of £108.7m on revenues 4.8 per cent higher at £1.13bn for the six months to the end of October.

Stagecoach, which earlier this year re-entered the London bus market after buying the East London Bus Group, boosted the interim dividend by ten per cent to 2.2 pence and said the outlook for the remainder of its fiscal year was good.

"We have made a good start to the second half of the financial year and current trading remains in line with management expectations," said Chief Executive Brian Souter.

"While we continue to monitor closely the rate and sustainability of economic recovery, we look forward with confidence and believe the outlook is positive for our bus and rail services."

Like-for-like revenue at Stagecoach's UK rail business, which includes the South West Trains London commuter franchise, grew 6.4 per cent in the period, while Virgin Rail, in which it owns a 49 percent stake, achieved sales growth of 14.8 per cent in the same period.

Underlying revenue at its UK bus unit rose 2.3 per cent, while its North American coaches operation posted a 7.5 per cent rise in like-for-like sales, shrugging off tough economic conditions.

Shares in Stagecoach, which have risen 10 percent in the last three months, closed at 215 pence on Tuesday, valuing the group at around £1.5bn.