Mar 14, 2009
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ADP sees "mild" 2009 profit growth, lower traffic

Mar 14, 2009

* 2008 earnings beat market forecasts

* Sees lower 2009 traffic, trims medium-term outlook

* CEO laments "total uncertainty" over length of crisis

(Adds background, CEO quote, Air France-KLM capacity)

By Tim Hepher and Matthias Blamont

PARIS, March 12 (Reuters) - Aeroports de Paris (ADP.PA) forecast "mild" revenue and core profit growth in 2009 and trimmed its medium-term outlook as it posted annual results above market expectations on Thursday March 12.

The operator of Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports also forecast a drop of up to 4.5 percent in 2009 passenger traffic, a day after its main airline customer Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) announced a further cut in summer seat capacity as the economic downturn slashes demand for air travel.

The group said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) -- its most widely monitored profit figure -- rose 12 percent to 848.0 million euros in 2008.

Earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) or operating profit rose 12.6 percent to 501.1 million euros on already reported sales of 2.527 billion, up 10.2 percent.

The profit surge came as spending at its recently expanded terminal stores raced ahead of 2008 passenger traffic growth of just 0.8 percent, which ADP said contrasted favourably with traffic falls at most other European airports.

The state-controlled group said restated net income rose 12.6 percent to 271.2 million euros and recommended a dividend of 1.38 euros per share, down from 1.63 euros the previous year -- which was boosted by proceeds from the sale of a stake in Beijing airport.

Analysts were looking on average for EBITDA of 818 million euros and EBIT of 483 million with a net profit of 262 million, according to data compiled by Reuters Estimates.


ADP, which last year opened new terminal areas dotted with shops run by leading European fashion designers, said it would cut 42 million euros of costs in 2009 and take a "more selective approach" to investments.

"Assuming passenger traffic were to decline between 2.5 percent and 4.5 percent in 2009 before recovering slightly in 2010, our outlook would be (for) mild revenue and EBITDA growth in 2009," it said in a statement.

It said using the same assumptions it also expected EBITDA growth to range between 50 and 60 percent in 2005 through 2010 compared with an earlier forecast of 60 percent.

"The problem for us is to know how long the crisis will last. We are in the most total uncertainty about that," Chairman and CEO Pierre Graff said in a telephone interview.

Air France-KLM said on Wednesday it would offer 3.4 percent fewer seat-kilometres -- a measure of capacity adjusted for the distance flown -- in summer 2009 compared with a previous planned cut of 2 percent that some analysts had called modest.

Its shares rose sharply on the news.

ADP was the second major hub operator in a week to report buoyant 2008 figures while preparing for the economic chill.

Frankfurt's Fraport (FRAG.DE) last week posted fourth-quarter EBITDA up 20 percent at 108.2 million euros, also beating analyst estimates.

But it expected passenger numbers and cargo volumes to keep shrinking in coming months as the global economic crisis stunts business travel and consumer spending.

February passenger traffic at the Lufthansa hub fell 4.8 percent, with a 25.6 percent drop in cargo volumes.

In Britain, BAA's UK airports handled 12.5 percent fewer passengers in February, partly due to bad weather. The underlying fall was 6.4 percent, Spanish owner Ferrovial (FER.MC) said.

ADP announces February traffic next week. Its shares closed on Wednesday at 40 euros, down 17 pecent so far this year. (Editing by David Holmes)

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