Ryanair Holdings plc (RYAAY)

Q3 2012 Earnings Call

January 30, 2012 9:30 am ET


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Michael O'Leary - Chief Executive Officer, Executive Director, Member of Nomination Committee, Member of Executive Committee, Chief Executive Officer of Ryanair Limited and Director of Ryanair Limited

Howard Millar - Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Chief Executive

Jimmy Dempsey -


Neil Glynn - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Joe Gill - Bloxham Stockbrokers, Research Division

Jarrod Castle - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Mark Manduca - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Stephen Furlong - Davy, Research Division

James D. Parker - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

Gorm Inge Thomassen - AKO Capital LLP

Andrew Light - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Peter Hyde - Liberum Capital Limited, Research Division

Eamonn Hughes - Goodbody Stockbrokers, Research Division

Brian Devine - NCB Group Limited, Research Division

Jonathan Wober - Societe Generale Cross Asset Research

Gerard Moore - Merrion Stockbrokers Ltd., Research Division



Good day, and welcome to the Ryanair Q3 Results Conference Call. Today's conference is being recorded. At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Mr. Michael O'Leary, CEO. Please go ahead, sir.

Michael O'Leary

Okay. Good afternoon, everybody, you're very welcome to the Q3 conference call. I'm joined here in Dublin by Neil Sorahan, Jimmy Dempsey, Dave Broderick. Howard is joining us on the call from London. Apologies, Michael Cawley can't make it, he's down in Barcelona in active discussions with the El Prat airport and the Generalitat about how we can rescue the poor stranded Spanair passengers.

And talk to you on our Q3 results, you will see in the press release. This morning, we announced a Q3 profit of EUR 15 million compared to a EUR 10 million loss last year. Revenues increased 13% to EUR 844 million. While traffic fell 2% but average fares rose 17%. Unit cost rose 11%, due to a 7% increase in sector length and an 18% increase in fuel costs.

And we're are very pleased to report this Q3 profit of EUR 15 million. It's slightly ahead of our expectations but largely due to the benign weather conditions experienced in December 2011 compared to the widespread snow closure de-icing comps we suffered in December 2010, and also a better yield performance as we grounded up to 80 aircraft and cut our traffic in Q3 by 2%. The 17% rise in average fares, which does include our optional baggage fees is due to reduced seat capacities, longer sectors and significantly higher competitor airfares and fuel surcharges. Ancillary revenues also grew 6% to EUR 177 million and rose by 8% in the per passenger basis.

We've rolled out our successful reserved seating service from 80 to all routes in the network will effect on January 10 slots. Our new routes and bases have performed well this winter. We open 5 new bases in the coming months, Baden in Germany, Billund in Denmark, Palma de Mallorca in Spain, Pafos in Cyprus and Wroclaw in Poland. We expect to launch at least one more base for summer 2012 shortly, but hope to have it announced before the end of February.

As you can see, the EU recession, higher oil prices, unfolding failure of the package tour operator model, significant competitor fare increases and capacity costs have created an enormous growth opportunities for Ryanair as large and smaller airports across Europe compete aggressively to win our growth.

Our unit cost rose 11%, mainly due to an 18% increase in fuel costs, excluding fuel, sector length adjusted unit cost fell 1%, as we continue to control costs despite a 2% basic pay increase, higher Eurocontrol fees and significantly higher Dublin Airport charges. In FY '13, we are 90% hedged for half 1 at above $99 per barrel, 70% hedged for the second half at approximately $100 a barrel. We do expect to hedge out the balance of our H2 FY 2013 needs over the coming months. But at these prices, our fuel bill for FY 2013 will rise by approximately EUR 350 million, which poses a significant cost challenge as we move into FY '13.

The BAA has recently announced that will pay dividends of GBP 240 million this year to Ferrovial and its other shareholders is further evidence that it's generating monopoly profits under the CAA's inadequate regulatory regime. Over the past 5 years, while Stansted charges has doubled, traffic has declined by 26% from over 24 million in 2007 to just 18 million last year. The BAA's monopoly shareholders are being unfairly enriched at the expense of Stansted airport users, who continue to suffer high charges and inadequate service. We again call on the U.K. government and the CAA to bring forward the sale of Stansted to enable the competition between London airport to deliver lower airport charges and improved customer service, where the BAA airport's monopoly and the CAA's inadequate regulatory regime has repeatedly failed.

We'd also like the U.K. government to scrap its dismal APD tourist tax, which is damaging U.K.'s tourism and jobs. A similar visitor tax in Holland was scrapped after just one year, when it was proven that it detrimentally impacts on those tourism and the economy with far greater than the revenue it generated. The U.K. APD was doubled in 2007 to GBP 10 and further increased this year to GBP 12 and has caused the U.K. to have the highest aviation taxes in the world to the detriment of U.K.'s tourism industry, which was one of the UK's most important revenue earners before its visitor number declined by some 20% over the past 4 years.

In Ireland, the government-owned DAA airport monopoly recently published its 2012 traffic figures, which highlighted a 26% decline in traffic over the past 5 years -- or 4 years from 30 million passengers in 2007 to just 22 million in 2011. While most of the U.K. and European airports delivered growth in 2011 by reducing charges, the government-owned DAA monopoly, protected by the useless Department of Transport, raised its fees by 40% and delivered another year of underlying traffic decline.

Sadly, the new Irish government after one year has failed to deliver any change or reform in either airport or tourism policy and has also failed to scrap its EUR 3 tourist tax. Ireland needs the competition between Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airports in order to reduce the DAA's high airport charges and return our tourism industry to growth, which is the only way we can create thousands of badly needed entry-level jobs in the Irish economy. We continue to campaign for this change and reform since the Department of Transport's current policy of protecting the DAA monopoly and increasing access cost to an island on the periphery of Europe clearly isn't working.

Our Q3 net profit of EUR 15 million was slightly ahead of guidance due to a combination of benign weather, which caused fewer flight cancellations and significant de-icing savings and a better performance on yields, reflecting our planned winter capacity cost, longer sectors and higher competitor fares and fuel surcharges. Should these positive Q3 trends continue into Q4, we now expect our full year profit will exceed the previous guidance of EUR 440 million and rise to approximately EUR 480 million after tax.

Just a note, for [indiscernible] in terms of an EGM. As you would be aware of, September 2011 EGM authorized the board to buy back ordinary shares representing up to 5% of our issued share capital. However, EU ownership rules requires at least 50% of the company be owned by EU nationals. Currently, that figure is about 51%. In order to facilitate further share buybacks, the board Intends to hold an EGM in March 2012 to seek shareholder approval to include ADRs, as well as ordinary shares in future buyback programs for up to 5% of our issued share capital and to ensure that we stay within the 50.1% EU ownership. A detailed letter to shareholders explaining these matters will be issued in due course, and the board believes that shareholders will support this proposal, which would be subject to stock exchange and regulatory approvals in due course.

Howard, can you take us to the MD&A for the quarter, please?

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