INVESTORS have lost patience in trusting Thomas Cook to deliver an Indian summer. Yesterday’s £10m downgrade to full-year profits comes fast on top of August’s profit warning, and sent investors scurrying for warmer climes. The shares’ 6.3 per cent fall to 171.7p means they now stand at their lowest point since December 2008, and are trading at just 6.6 times 2011 earnings, much cheaper than peer Tui which trades at 8.9 times earnings.
Yet Thomas Cook offers a prospective dividend yield of 6.6 per cent, compared to Tui’s 5.4 per cent. And Thomas Cook’s latest disappointment comes from a technical hitch – problems with aircraft in August meant that last-minute replacements had to be hired expensively – and should be a one-off.
And if chief executive’s Manny Fontenla-Novoa’s claim that trading conditions this year have been worse than after the 9/11 terrorism attacks, then the fact that bookings for next summer are up nine per cent, with average selling prices up four per cent indicates that the only way from here is up.
The 2010 summer season was relatively successful with departed load factor, a measure of how full the group’s planes were, still high at 94 per cent and while £390m in full-year pre-tax profits is lower than the £420m expected, consensus expectations were only £30m higher before the volcanic ash-cloud emerged.
Analysts believe a fair share price lies around 250p – now could be the right time to pick them up at rock bottom.