Stagecoach is on track with 39pc profit rise

Marion Dakers
SHARES in Stagecoach rose 5.9 per cent yesterday to 308.7p after the bus and train operator posted a 39 per cent rise in half-year profit.

The firm said revenues rose 8.5 per cent to £1.4bn in the six months to the end of October, pushing pre-tax profit from £88.7m to £123.7m.

Stagecoach’s train business, which includes a 49 per cent stake in Virgin Rail, delivered a 6.6 per cent rise in first-half sales.

Both Stagecoach and the Department for Transport said yesterday they hope to sign a deal soon to allow Virgin to continue operating the West Coast Main Line once the current franchise expires on Sunday.

Stagecoach added that it would “support the government in delivering an improved, sustainable process” to help get the franchise programme restarted as soon as possible, after it was frozen in October.

The firm’s regional bus division saw sales rise 8.3 per cent to £488.3m in the period, though its London bus services, which are being restructured, posted a 0.6 per cent fall in revenues.

In the States, revenues rose by a fifth to £199.8m at Stagecoach’s Megabus and newly-acquired Coach America businesses.

“We see good potential ahead to grow our transport operations in the UK and North America, and we believe the outlook is positive,” said chief executive Sir Brian Souter.