Market report

BA soars on travel uplift | Weir up on market share

British Airways pic

British Airways owner IAG more than doubled full-year operating profit in line with expectations and delivered a positive outlook for this year as consumers prioritise holidays.

Airlines have reported a continuing post-pandemic travel boom, but concerns over high jet fuel prices and geopolitical uncertainty have created an uncertain outlook.

Announcing a rise in operating profit to €3.5 billion from €1.22bn in 2022, IAG chief executive Luis Gallego said: “In 2023 IAG more than doubled its operating margin and profit compared to 2022, generated excellent free cash flow and strengthened its balance sheet position.”

John Moore, senior investment manager at RBC Brewin Dolphin, said: “IAG hasn’t really taken off since the Covid-19 pandemic, with the shares broadly where they were during the summer of 2020.

“But easyJet’s return to the FTSE 100 confirms that conditions are generally smoother for airlines and today’s results from IAG may just be the catalyst its share price needs.

“Profits have surged and the group looks like it will generate significant amounts of free cashflow this year, underpinned by strong bookings for the first half of 2024.

“There are, however, still clouds on the horizon, with aircraft availability and softer demand for routes to and from Asia likely to be ongoing challenges. After a turbulent few years, IAG looks in better shape than it has done for some time and shareholders will be hoping that starts to be reflected in the share price.”


Weir Group

Weir Group, the Glasgow-based mining technology company, said it is winning market share and has a strong order book after posting an 18% rise in adjusted pre-tax profits to £411 million from £348m in the previous year.

It is proposing a similar hike in the full year dividend to 38.6p.

Jon Stanton, chief executive, said: “Weir is delivering on the compelling value creation opportunity we set out as a focused mining technology company.

“Our unique capabilities are enabling us to capitalise on the structural growth in demand for critical metals and the transition to more sustainable mining.

“We have a growing installed base, a strong order book and ore production trends in our mining markets are positive. We expect to deliver another year of growth in revenue, profit and cash generation, and to further expand our operating margins with progress towards our 2026 target of 20%.”

Weir no longer manufactures in Scotland. It employs about 150 people in the country, mostly at its head office in Glasgow.

Shares fell 43.5p (2.32%) to 1833p.


Ocado

Online grocery business Ocado swung back to an underlying profit in 2023 as its joint venture with M&S returned to the black.

Adjusted EBITDA came in at £51.6 million for the 53 weeks ended 3 December 2023, compared to a £74.1 million loss a year earlier.

The bottom line loss before tax was £393.6 million down from £0.5 billion last time as consumers cut down on their shopping.

Revenue for the year closed up 9.9% to £2.8 billion, led by a 44% jump in turnover in its technology consulting arm and with retail revenue up 7%.

The firm said it saw a “reduction in items per shopping basket as consumers responded to the impact of high inflation on their cost of living.”


Macfarlane

Scottish packaging group Macfarlane said recent acquisitions, tight cost control and growth in Europe were behind a rise in profit for the year. Full story here



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