Stagecoach on track for year after sales rise

BUS and rail group Stagecoach said ticket sales rose across its bus and rail operations in the first half of its financial year and that it expects to meet its profit expectations for the full-year.

The FTSE 250-listed group said revenues in its rail business grew 6.5 per cent in the 24 weeks to 17 October. Virgin Rail, in which the group owns a 49 per cent stake, achieved sales growth of 15.2 per cent, the group said in a trading update yesterday.

Turnover in Stagecoach’s bus unit rose 2.3 per cent, while its coach operations in North America rose 7.5 per cent.

The company said the government’s changes to bus subsidies will not impact profit this year, but that the 20 per cent cut from April 2012 announced last month will affect future decisions on bus fares, tenders and services.

The firm returned to the London bus market last month after it bought the East London Bus Group out of administration for £52.8m, but said the purchase will not make a material difference to results in the full year to April.

Shares in the company, which have risen a fifth in the last three months, closed up 0.9 per cent at 216.1p.