Major announcements from National Express Group PLC.
National Express Group PLC, a leading international public transport group, operates bus, coach and train services in the UK, bus and coach operations in Spain and school bus services in North America.
|Revenue||£2.6 billion||£2.5 billion||+4%|
|Group operating profit||£162.3 million||£141.6 million||+15%|
|Normalised operating profit*||£205.6 million||£184.8 million||+11%|
|Profit before tax||£149.9 million||£104.1 million||+44%|
|Normalised profit before tax*||£177.0 million||£156.1 million||+13%|
|Operating cash flow**||£196.7 million||£209.7 million||-6%|
|Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations||73.1 pence||52.5 pence||+39%|
|Normalised diluted earnings per share*||83.9 pence||76.5 pence||+10%|
|Final dividend per share||26.4 pence||24.0 pence||+10%|
|Total dividend for the year per share||37.96 pence||34.75 pence||+9%|
|Net debt||£910.8 million||£438.4 million||+108%|
* Normalised results are the statutory results excluding the profit or loss on the sale of businesses, exceptional profit or loss on sale of non-current assets and charges for goodwill impairment, intangible asset amortisation, exceptional items and tax relief on qualifying exceptional items.
** Operating cash flow as defined in the Finance Review, before franchise entry and exits.
- Results at the top end of market expectations;
- Strong passenger growth in all divisions - 6% in trains, 3% in coaches, 2% in buses and 4% in Spain;
- Completion of the acquisition of Continental Auto for £459.8 million (€659.3 million) to create Spain's leading coach and bus operator;
- Award with launch in December of National Express East Coast franchise;
- Restructuring of UK operations to form one division, releasing £11 million of annualised savings, well underway;
- Record North American bid season and Business Transformation project on course;
- Positive start to 2008; and
- Commitment to increase the Group's dividend by 10% per annum for the next three years reflecting the Board's confidence in the Group's future prospects.
Commenting on current trading and prospects, Chairman, David Ross said:
"Over the last year, National Express has undertaken significant change to deliver a more customer focused service culture, which has contributed to another year of passenger growth for the Group. Growing awareness of the positive environmental impact of public transport and population growth within our core markets continues to support long term growth trends within our operations.
The acquisition of Continental Auto and the award of the East Coast franchise in the final quarter of 2007 reinforced our strong market positions in the Spanish and UK markets. Our diversified portfolio of transport activity provides robust cash flow, market leading margins and significant opportunities for future growth. Despite the current economic backdrop, all operations have started the year well and we have seen no adverse impact on current trading.
Our new dividend policy, announced today, underlines our commitment to delivering value for shareholders. We remain confident about the Group's prospects for the year ahead."
For further information, please contact:
Richard Bowker, Chief Executive
Adam Walker, Finance Director
Nicola Marsden, Director of Group Communications
National Express Group PLC 020 7506 4324/4333
Neil Bennett/Suzanne Bartch/Brian Hudspith
Maitland 020 7379 5151
There will be an analyst and investor meeting at 0900 hours on 28 February 2008 at Merrill Lynch, 2 King Edward Street, London, EC1A 1HQ.
A webcast of the analyst presentation will be available on our website www.nationalexpressgroup.com at 0900 hours on 28 February 2008.
High resolution images are available for the media to view and download, free of charge, from www.vismedia.co.uk or telephone 020 7613 2555.