National Express international operations deliver strong growth

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National Express UK Coach operations saw a small increase in revenue, but a operating profit decline of 9.6%. MIKE SHEATHER

National Express has released its half year results for the six months ended June 30, 2017, where international operations offset decreases in the UK market to deliver strong results.

Group revenue increased by 16.2% to £1.17bn, with statutory operating profit up by 12.8% at £87.3m. Profit before tax stood at £64.6m (2016: £54.4m) and earnings per share were 10.9p, up 1.7p. The interim dividend was 4.26p, a 10.1% increase.

Much of the company’s financial success was driven by the North American and Spanish/Moroccan businesses, which saw 8.2% and 9.2% increases in profit on a constant currency basis respectively. The North Amercian school bus business had a contract retention rate of 95% and an average contract price increase of 3.7%.

UK Bus saw a slight reduction in revenue, which contracted from £137.9m to £135.9m, while UK coach increased in contrast from £133.8m to £136.1m. Both saw a decline in operating profit, with UK Bus falling by £0.2m to £16.6m, and UK Coach falling by £1m to £9.4m.

Dean Finch, National Express Group CEO, commented: “We have delivered a strong set of results, again benefiting from our internationally diverse portfolio of cash-generative businesses. Record half year performances in our North American and Spanish and Moroccan divisions have more than offset more challenging trading in the UK. I am particularly pleased with the strength of our free cash flow, which provides us with opportunity for further investment and improving returns.

“We continue to see the benefit of our recent acquisitions in driving good growth and creating shareholder value. These acquisitions are also helping us to expand in new growth markets, but we will remain disciplined in the opportunities we pursue.”