BUDGET airline Easyjet reported record full year results today, leading to a bigger dividend payout for shareholders.
The Luton-based airline posted an 11.6% boost to revenues for the year to September 30, up to £3.85bn, while pre-tax profits soared 28% to £317m.
It said in light of its continued strong financial performance the board has amended its dividend policy and will pay out one-third of profits after tax each year, up from one-fifth which was introduced last year.
The proposed payout to shareholders will now rise by 104.8% to 21.5p per share, from 10.5p.
Easyjet is the biggest carrier by passenger numbers at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, currently flying to 27 destinations.
However, it has scaled back its operations at the airport by cutting routes, while at the same time investing more in its Manchester operations.
It reported growth at Gatwick and its new base at Southend, operated by Warrington-based transport group Stobart, but reduced capacity at Stanstead and Liverpool.
However, Liverpool John Lennon Airport revealed to The Post earlier this month that it was close to agreeing a new contract with Easyjet and airport head Craig Richmond was confident the carrier would cut no more capacity.
Today’s results showed profits grew to a new record despite a £182m increase in fuel costs.
Total revenue per seat rose by 5.9%, and the load factor, or number of available seats sold, increased by 1.4% to 88.7%.
The airline generated an operating cash level of £457m, up 7.8% on last year, excluding dividend payments.
Chief executive Carolyn McCall said today: “These results demonstrate that Easyjet is a structural winner in the European short-haul market against both legacy and low cost competition.
“The strength of Easyjet’s business model and strategy, coupled with the hard work and dedication of the Easyjet team, has delivered record profits as well as a significant increase in returns for shareholders during the year.
“While there is always the potential for unexpected events to temporarily impact financial results the board of Easyjet is confident that its business model, strategy and people will consistently continue to generate superior returns and growth for shareholders.”
The company reported forward bookings for the first half of 2013 are broadly in line with last year, with around 45% of winter seats now booked.
However, it warned of a range of cost increases in the coming financial year, including a £70m rise in its airport costs, and a £30m increase in fuel costs. Currency exchange rate movements are expected to have a further £50m negative impact on the 2013 financial year.
Nevertheless, Liverpool stockbroker Panmure Gordon reiterated its ‘buy’ stance on Easyjet’s shares, saying: “Easyje’'s full year numbers were in line with our forecasts and towards the top end of the most recently guided profit before tax range.
“The outlook statement is confident, yet cautious. We retain our buy recommendation and 750p target (share) price.”