Shares of Leeds-based leisure and logistics firm Dart Group, owner of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, soared about 35% after it said its revenue increased 38% to £2.39 billion and pre-tax profit rose 49% to £134.6 million in the year ended March 31, 2018.
Dart Group also said it expects profit in the current financial year to substantially exceed current market expectations.
Dart Group shares rose about 35% to around 990p to give the firm a current stock market value of around £1.5 billion, according to Bloomberg data.
In his outlook, Dart Group executive chairman Dart Group Philip Meeson said: “Demand for our leisure travel product has strengthened since the start of the new financial year and given current forward bookings we expect that group profit before foreign exchange revaluations and taxation for the financial year ending 31 March 2019, will substantially exceed current market expectations.”
Dart Group is recommending a final dividend of 6p per share (2017: 3.897p), which will bring the total proposed dividend to 7.5p per share for the year, an increase of 42%.
Meeson added: “The increased profits reflect the continuing strong demand for our leisure travel products — holiday flights with our leading leisure airline Jet2.com and package holidays with our ATOL protected tour operator Jet2holidays.
“Our important flight-only product was enjoyed by 5.37 million passengers in the year (2017: 3.64m), a growth of 48%, whilst demand for our Real Package Holidays continues to grow, as Jet2holidays took 2.5m customers on package holidays (2017: 1.73m), an increase of 45%.
During the year, Jet2.com flew a total of 10.38m flight-only and package holiday passengers (one-way passenger sectors) (2017: 7.10m), primarily to and from sun, city and ski destinations, an increase of 46%.
“Average load factors, including from our popular new operating bases at Birmingham and London Stansted airports, increased to 92.2% (2017: 91.5%) …
“Average airline ticket yields at £73.65 (2017: £86.65) were 15% lower than the prior year against a 45% increase in seat capacity and very competitive pricing in summer 2017.
“Some price investment was also made to support demand at the two new operating bases in their first seasons of operation.
“However, the average price of a Jet2holidays package holiday grew by 3% to £633 (2017: £617) and as a result, revenue in our Leisure Travel business increased by 42% to £2,223.2m (2017: £1,565.8m).
“Our Distribution & Logistics business, Fowler Welch, achieved revenue growth of 3% to £168.6m (2017: £163.5m).
“However, profit before taxation fell by £0.1m to £4.4m (2017: £4.5m), as additional operational support was provided to a key customer over the Christmas period, while varying retailer demand and shorter production runs, led to cost pressures at our fruit ripening and packing joint venture, Integrated Service Solutions (ISS).”