Friday, September 3, 2010

AirAsia Q2 net profit 43% up on higher passenger load

19 August 2010

PETALING JAYA: AirAsia Bhd’s net profit jumped 43% to RM198.9mil for the second quarter ended June 30, from RM139.2mil a year ago, on the back of strong growth in passenger volumes, ancillary income and higher average fares.

Its revenue for the quarter was 26% higher at RM940.6mil from RM747.9mil a year ago. It reported earnings per share of 7.2 sen versus 5.9 sen a year ago.

For the six months ended June 30, AirAsia posted a net profit of RM423mil on revenue of RM1.82bil.

While AirAsia posted a record quarter, Malaysia Airlines posted a net loss of RM535mil due mainly to derivative losses from its fuel hedges. MAS’ revenue stood at RM3.2bil for the quarter ended June 30.

In a teleconference yesterday, group CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes was confident of a strong second half for AirAsia. He sees a tremendous upside for its operations in Thailand and Indonesia while its ancillary income registered massive growth.

“Forward bookings are looking very good, The fourth quarter is traditionally our strongest quarter. To head into our strongest season on the back of a soaring first quarter and a record-breaking second quarter puts us in a fantastic position,” he said.

During the second quarter, the group’s core operating profit for the period was RM168.5mil, a 31% increase over RM128.4mil core operating profit achieved a year ago.

The core operating profit margin for the period was at 17.9%, 0.7 percentage point higher than the 17.2% core operating profit margin achieved a year ago.

“There were no unrealised translation gains in the quarter as gains from the slight strengthening of the ringgit were offset by losses from the change in the fair value of currency derivatives,” it said in the notes accompanying AirAsia’s financial results.

Commenting on its ancillary growth, Fernandes said: “We have actually reached our target of RM40 spending per pax that we set for the last quarter. We have unearthed a gushing revenue stream that can boost the bottom line and also serve as a buffer to rising fuel prices.”

He said baggage fees and AirAsia Cargo were significant contributors to ancillary income for the group.

Meanwhile, AirAsia’s associates Thai AirAsia Co and Indonesia AirAsia recorded good performance in the second quarter.

“Indonesia AirAsia has staged a strong turnaround and we expect greater things,” Fernandes said, adding that passenger volume grew by 10% year-on-year to 947,786 from 863,440 last year.

In the second quarter, Thai AirAsia recorded a net profit of RM4.9mil on revenue of RM267.4mil while Indonesia AirAsia’s net profit rose to RM39.6mil on revenue of RM233.2mil.

During the quarter, the group carried a total of 6.07 million passengers while the load factor increased to 77% from 75% in the same period last year.

Fernandes said its cost per average seat per km (ASK) of 3.62 US cents was mainly due to higher average fuel cost. He said the average fuel price in the second quarter was US$100 per barrel against US$60 a barrel in the same period last year.

However, its revenue ASK grew by 26% to 4.88 US cents in the second quarter from 3.87 US cents perviously. “I think we remained prudent with hedging, but it’s very useful too – that we’re not trying to bet where the market’s going, we’re just trying to match our forward sales with our oil hedging,” he said when asked on its hedging status.

Fernandes said its net gearing was expected to improved after the deferment of aircraft in 2011. “We have deferred seven A320s for 2011 to 2015. We are planning to reduce aircraft deliveries to 10-12 from 2012 onwards,” he said. He expected AirAsia’s gearing ratio to be below two times from 2011 onwards.

On aircraft financing, he said the financing for all the aircraft in 2010 was secured. As of June 30, the group has a total of 85 planes. Of the total, 50 planes are for Malaysian operations, while Thailand has 20 and Indonesia 15.

Fernandes was confident that the group’s cash balance would surpassed RM1bil by year-end. It has a current cash balance of RM858mil.

“We’ll easily surpass that by year-end. We will be getting re-payment from our associates in Thailand and Indonesia.” He added that with the listing of associates, the amount due from associates could potentially be converted to new shares to maintain shareholding in Thai AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia.

“It is very premature for me to comment. We believe we have a very strong brand in Thailand. We are not duly concerned. We are not focusing on our competitor, but ourselves,” Fernandes said when commenting on Tiger Airways’ venture into Thailand.

Analysts contacted said AirAsia’s strong performance was above their expectation.

“They (AirAsia) did superbly despite the significant rise in the fuel bill due to the higher oil prices. And that’s largely thanks to the strong growth in ancillary income which sort of ‘offset’ the higher fuel expenses. The deferment of aircraft significantly reduces the debt burden, and should contribute positively to earnings via lower financing costs and better yields through higher loads,” an analyst said.

Another analyst said AirAsia’s operational numbers look very good and were slightly above his expectations.


By Leong Hung Yee

The Star

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