Thomas Cook Extends Multibagger Gain

LONDON -- The shares of Thomas Cook (LSE: TCG  ) climbed 2 pence, or 3%, to 74 pence during early London trade this morning to extend their 12-month gain to 469%.

The advance was prompted by a first-quarter statement that declared the travel agent's business transformation plan was "firmly on track."

Thomas Cook revealed underlying losses during October, November, and December had reduced from 93 million pounds to 70 million pounds. Lower costs counterbalanced revenues that fell 137 million pounds to 1,724 million pounds.

The group also announced plans to reduce its costs by a further 60 million pounds a year, which will come on top of the 100 million pounds of cuts announced previously. Today's statement confirmed net debt stood at 1,559 million pounds, too.

Harriet Green, Thomas Cook's chief executive, said:

As we continue to strengthen Thomas Cook and determine our profitable growth strategy for the future, the power of our brand remains key to the transformation.

We have seen stronger operating performances in our major markets -- the U.K., Germany and the Nordics. I am particularly pleased with the improved performance in the U.K. as the benefits of the turnaround plan are reflected in its operating results.

Looking ahead, the travel agent claimed future bookings were "robust" and "in-line with expectations" as the firm's "improved capacity management" led to higher sale prices and improved margins.

This time last year, Thomas Cook's shares were languishing around the 13 pence mark after a series of profit warnings during 2011 wiped more than 90% from the group's market value.

Today's market cap is 670 million pounds, which when added to the firm's average net debt level gives an enterprise value of 1.7 billion pounds. Assuming a margin of 3.5% -- achieved during 2008 and 2009 -- can be regained on last year's sales of 9 billion pounds, earnings might one day recover to 250 million pounds. That forecast could value the business at less than seven times potential profits.

Of course, whether those projections are realistic -- and whether the shares can rally even further from here -- remain questions only you can answer.

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