LONDON -- Shares in Ryanair Holdings (LSE: RYA.L ) (Nasdaq: RYAAY ) are up about 6.9% to 4.85 pence so far today, thanks to a positive half-yearly report.
Management announced that in the period ended Sept. 30, profit rose a healthy 10% year on year to 596 million euros from 2011's figure of 544 million euros. This was boosted by a 7% upturn in passengers -- for a total of 48 million, a six-month record -- and a 15% increase in revenue, which was reported at 3.1 billion euros compared with 2.7 billion euros at the same stage last year.
The low-cost airline announced two new bases in the period -- Paphos in Cyprus and Maastricht in the Netherlands -- with a further 158 new routes being launched, taking the total daily flights to more than 1,500.
Despite the economic problems persisting across Europe, the airline industry saw consumers continue to holiday abroad, with rivals such as Thomas Cook and TUI Travel reporting higher bookings earlier in the year as Britons sought sunshine in a largely damp summer.
Ryanair continued, "We expect market conditions in Europe to remain tough as recession, austerity, high fuel costs, and excessive Government taxes dampen air travel demand." However, management revised its forecast for the company's full-year figures from a previous range of 400 million euros to 440 million euros to an encouraging 490 million euros to 520 million euros.
Private investors with or considering stakes in Ryanair will be cheered by the 13% rise in earnings per share from 36.6 cents in 2011 to 41.34 cents. Furthermore, a second special dividend was approved at the company's September annual general meeting totaling 489 million euros, or 0.34 euro cents per share, which will be paid to shareholders on Nov. 30.
This follows a pessimistic start to the year for Ryanair, in which it saw increased fuel costs drive the company's profit down 29% in Q1. So the airline business remains a volatile one, and investors might be best reminded of Warren Buffett's famous quote: "How do you become a millionaire? Make a billion dollars and then buy an airline."
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