FLIGHT CENTRE PROFIT STEADY

FLIGHT CENTRE PROFIT STEADY

FLIGHT Centre (FLT) has reported a slight increase in net profit after tax to $139.8 million for the 2011 financial year.

The travel company also recorded a $245.2 million underlying pre-tax profit and $213.1 million actual result during the period.

FLT managing director Graham Turner (pictured) says FY12 first quarter global sales and profit results have exceeded expectations.

“First quarter trading results and October projections indicate that pre-tax profit is currently 25-30 per cent higher than during the previous corresponding period,” says Turner in a statement to the ASX.

“So far, all regions are performing in line with or better than expectations with Australia, the UK and our emerging Asia-Middle East businesses generating (the) strongest growth.”

However, Turner is not overly optimistic about the rest of the financial year.

“It is, of course, early days and it is premature to assume that this trend (of 25-30% growth) will continue,” he says.

“In fact, our experiences during the past 30 years give us reasons to remain cautious. At this stage we remain comfortable with our full year market guidance.”

FLT’s US business recorded modest earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss during the first four months. US trading is expected to follow a similar pattern to last year, with first half losses followed by profits in a stronger second half – and a predicted EBIT of $5 million.

FLT plans to bolster its Australian offering across all sales channels to provide customers with a full range of booking options, including in-store, online, phone and email.

“This genuine multi-channel sales offering is a key point of difference,” says Turner.

“Effectively, we can replicate the web-based booking services online travel agencies provide and couple them with the services our global shop network provides.”

Although industrial action aimed at Qantas is tipped to inflict further pain on domestic operators, Turner says FLT is committed to helping the tourism industry recover.

FLT shares remained steady today at $18.55 per unit.

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