You reveal growing sales and healthy profits, report your latest mega acquisition is integrating nicely and even unveil your first dividend. Yet still your shares fall. What’s a CEO to do?
Such is life for International Airlines Group boss Willie Walsh this morning – not that the straight-talking, job-slashing Irishman will let it ruffle him. The owner of British Airways, Iberia and, since August, Aer Lingus, reported third quarter profits rose 38% to €1.25bn (£900m). But shares nonetheless dropped more than 4% to around 573p this morning.
It increased its full-year profit forecast from €2.2bn to €2.25bn-€2.3bn. But that didn’t impress analysts, who had predicted an average of €2.31bn. The markets may also be disappointed its third quarter earnings didn’t make even more hay from low oil prices. Yesterday, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa reported profits had trebled and risen 42% respectively, although both were lower than IAG’s.
Nonetheless, IAG appears to be in rude health. It announced its first dividend – an interim payout of 10 cents per share - since British Airways was merged with the then-floundering Iberia in 2011. And it said Aer Lingus had made a modest €45m profit between being folded into the group on August 18 and September 30.
‘While the airline’s profitability is seasonal, Aer Lingus is cost-effective and provides a natural gateway to build our business between Europe and North America. It’s a great asset for the Group,’ Walsh said. Investors, however, are taking the wait-and-see view for now.