Irish Continental revenue rises but schedule changes hit non-freight business
Ferry group introduced its €155m WB Yeats cruise ferry on scheduled services in January
The Irish Ferries vessel Ulysses leaves Dublin port .Photograph: Bryan O’Brien
Revenue at Irish Continental Group rose 6 per cent in the first six months of its financial year, but the ferry group took a hit as scheduling changes reduced revenue and volumes.
Although ICG’s freight business showed more than 7 per cent growth in both roll-on roll-off freight and the number of containers shipped, car volumes were down 5.7 per cent, while the number of passengers fell by 4.7 per cent.
ICG said the decline was due to a number of factors, including the decision to withdraw the Dublin Swift fast-craft services on the Dublin/Holyhead route over the winter months, and a curtailment of fast-craft services during May 2019 to allow for work to improve future operational performance of the Dublin Swift. A delay in opening ICG’s booking system for car bookings on the direct France services also had an impact.
In the six months to June 30th, ICG said revenue was €166.8 million compared with €157.2 million in 2018. The first six months of the year are considered seasonally less profitable.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) was €30 million, up almost 15 per cent year on year from €26.1 million in the same period of 2018. However, adjusted earnings per share fell nearly 40 per cent, at 4.9 cent compared with 8.1 cent in the first six months of 2018.
Fuel costs were also higher during the period, rising by almost 14 per cent to €25.5 million.
The six-month period saw the introduction of the €155 million WB Yeats cruise ferry on scheduled services with Irish Ferries in January 2019, and the sale of the Oscar Wilde in April 2019 for a deferred consideration of €28.9 million.
The company also expanded its owned container fleet to five vessels with the acquisition of Thetis D.
The company announced an interim dividend of 4.42 cent, up 5 per cent compared with the same period in 2018.
“Growth in all our businesses has continued over the period since June 30th,” said chairman John B McGuckian. “While we remain positive for continued revenue growth more uncertainty than usual exists in relation to geopolitical tensions and the mechanism for the proposed exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Both these uncertainties have the potential to affect growth in the economies in which we operate. Notwithstanding, the group remains in a strong position to pursue further opportunities.”