Newcastle’s Go-Ahead profit up 6.5% to £146m

Shares of Newcastle-based bus and rail firm Go-Ahead Group surged more than 10% on Thursday after it said its pre-tax profit rose 6.5% to £145.7 million in the year to June 30 and its overall results were “ahead of expectations.”

Revenue for the year slipped 0.6% to £3.46 billion with the small decrease “attributable to the rail division, following the ending of the London Midland franchise in December 2017, partially offset by inflationary increases in revenue.”

Go-Ahead maintained its full year dividend of 102.08p.

Bus operating profit pre-exceptional items rose to £91.4 million from £90.7 million.

Rail operating profit fell to £44.5 million from £59.9 million due in part to the expiry of the London Midland franchise.

Go-Ahead Group CEO David Brown said: “I’m pleased to report full year results that are ahead of our expectations.

“Our bus operations performed resiliently with profits slightly up on last year despite a challenging market environment.

“Rail profits fell partly due to the expiry of the London Midland franchise in December, but one-off disposal gains at the end of the franchise and some cost improvement benefits at Southeastern led to a better performance than originally expected.

“Our regional bus business received customer satisfaction levels of 91%, the highest ever recorded in the sector.

“Our London bus business also improved its operational performance with punctuality levels 12.5% better than last year.

“In rail, the timetable change in May was the largest in decades and will deliver substantial customer benefits.

“In Southern, the timetable change supported continuing improvement, with services now operating at the highest level of reliability since before the start of the current franchise.

“In Thameslink and Great Northern, collective industry failures over the timetable change resulted in a period of service performance which was severely below our expectations and those of our customers.

“We are sorry for the significant disruption that the change caused to our passengers and are working very hard with the rest of the industry to improve the service.

“The interim timetable that has been in place since mid-July is providing a much improved train service in terms of both reliability and punctuality.

“More services will be introduced over the coming months.

“Our international strategy has progressed well with two further contract successes – a second bus contract in Ireland and a fourth rail contract in Germany.

“Annualised revenue from the seven international contracts secured to date is now around £250m, and there is a good pipeline of upcoming opportunities in our target markets.

“We remain on track to meet our target of generating 15% to 20% of group operating profit from international operations by 2022.”