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Ryanair Boosts Profit Forecast After Strong Christmas Demand

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(Bloomberg) — Ryanair Holdings Plc, Europe’s biggest discount airline, raised its profit target for the year through March following stronger-than-expected demand during the Christmas travel period.

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Annual earnings will be in a range of €1.325 billion ($1.4 billion) to €1.425 billion, compared with a previous target of as much as €1.2 billion, Ryanair said in a statement after markets closed in Europe. Profit in the fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31 was close to €200 million, it said. 

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“On the strength of this evidence, demand for short-haul leisure travel in Europe remains healthy, and we are increasingly optimistic going into the next reporting season,” Bernstein analysts Alex Irving and Clementine Flinois said in a note. “We are therefore growing increasingly confident in our view that the European aviation sector has avoided coming under pressure this winter from high energy prices and squeezed household budgets.”

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The Dublin-based airline cautioned that its guidance “remains heavily dependent upon avoiding adverse events” in the year’s final quarter, such as a worsening of the Covid-19 pandemic or a deterioration of the war in Ukraine. 

Ryanair maintained its full-year traffic guidance of 168 million passengers, and said that it will incur a fourth-quarter loss because the busy Easter travel season this year falls in April, outside the period. The company also said it’s seen a “recent softening in UK outbound and Irish – Prov. UK traffic and pricing,” which will weigh on the quarter. 

Ryanair rose as much as 2.4% on Wednesday. The stock lost 20% of its value last year, the worst annual performance since 2018.

—With assistance from Christopher Jasper.

(Updates with currency conversion in second paragraph, adds analyst comment in third paragraph.)

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