WEBJET SOARS TO RECORD FY PROFIT AND FORESEES NO HEADWINDS

WEBJET SOARS TO RECORD FY PROFIT AND FORESEES NO HEADWINDS

Online travel booking business Webjet (ASX: WEB) has more than doubled its full-year profit to a record $52.4 million and CEO John Guscic says he sees no sign of demand slowing down.

Webjet's statutory net profit for 2016-17 rose 146.6 per cent but also factors in the sale of Asia-focused online travel agent brand Zuji for $56 million which was a $28 million gain for the company.

Despite this, profit from continuing operations still rose 58 per cent and revenue rose 35 per cent to $234.9 million.

The solid numbers were helped by strong bookings growth and integration of its New Zealand online travel company acquisition, Online Republic, and could have actually been better had Webjet not been involved in a dispute with its auditor, BDO, over its accounting methods in its agreement with Thomas Cook Travel to supply it with hotel inventory.

That ruling by BDO, which was eventually accepted by Webjet, cut around $11.5 million from its full year earnings.

"Bookings growth in all markets demonstrates the importance of building a global business able to deliver deep inventory at attractive prices to a wide range of customers," says Guscic.

The company reported flight bookings were up 12.7 per cent during the year with gains in domestic and international flight markets, while package bookings were up 38 per cent.

Hotel bookings were down 21 per cent in line with a strategic decision to focus on flights and travel packages.

Guscic says Webjet's growth has continued into 2017-18 so far, with the core business up 20 per cent year-on-year in revenue terms so far.

The company will pay a fully franked final dividend of 10 cents a share, up from eight cents a year ago.

At around 11.30am WEB shares were trading more than six per cent higher at $12.02. In 2014, its shares fell below $3.00 as investors mulled the emergence of Airbnb, which now appears to have had little impact on Webjet's business.

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