ICG shakes off brief Brexit ‘wobble’ to record higher revenue

Stronger Irish economy buoys ferry firm as sterling weakness impacts figures

 Irish Ferries brand owner Irish Continental Group said earnings  rose 10.6 per cent to €83.5 million last year. Photograph: Eric Luke

Irish Ferries brand owner Irish Continental Group said earnings rose 10.6 per cent to €83.5 million last year. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Revenue at Irish Continental Group rose 1.5 per cent to € 325.4 million last year as the company shook off the Brexit “wobble” to record a year of strong growth.

The transport firm, which owns the Irish Ferries brand, said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 10.6 per cent to €83.5 million for the year, while basic earnings per share increased 8.7 per cent to 31.4 cent.

Underpinning the growth was a 5 per cent rise in roll on, roll off (RoRo) freight volumes to 286,100 units, while container volumes were up 6 per cent.

The number of cars carried increased 3.3 per cent to 414,100.

Growth in the Irish economy helped the firm, along with lower fuel prices, although reduced fuel surcharges to customers and the volatile exchange rate between the euro and sterling offset some of the benefit of that.

ICG said the weaker sterling rate has been a “significant headwind” for the group in 2016, reducing average tourism yields, although sterling costs also fell. The firm said net debt was down 14.4 per cent to €37.9 million from €44.3 million a year earlier.

Freight volumes

Chairman John McGuckian said 2016 was another successful year for the group.

“The strong performance for the financial year is underpinned by increased car and freight volumes and increased charter revenues,” he said.

“Despite the current uncertainty surrounding the impact of the UK decision to leave the EU and the weakness of sterling, the Irish Sea markets continue to perform well.”

The company also said its vessel the MV Kaitaki would remain on charter to KiwiRail until June 2020. In September last year, the company announced its charter of the high-speed craft Westpac Express to Sealift had been fixed until October 2017. The purchase of the boat, from Bali Westpac, was announced last April, with a price tag of more than $13 million.

Looking ahead, ICG said it expected another year of volume growth, and despite a predicted impact from sterling rates and higher fuel costs, the balance sheet would continue to strengthen.

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