Strong UK performance by National Express

Strong performance in the UK bus, coach and rail divisions for the six months to 30 June 2014 has been outweighed by unfavourable trading results in Spain and North America.

Group revenue was 1.8% down at £939.5m (2013: £956.7m), normalised operating profit decreased 7.9% to £89.5m (2013: £97.2m), and profit before tax dropped 8.8% to £65.5m (2013: £71.8m). However, net debt declined from £809.4m to £729.0m.

All UK divisions delivered strong growth and rising passenger volumes, but combined only contributed around one third of total turnover.

UK Coach: revenue up 7.2% to £130.5m (2013: £121.7m), and operating profit shot up 19.2% to £9.3m (2013: £7.8m). Margin grew to 7.1% (6.4%). Underlying revenue growth was 7%, and underlying volume growth was 6%.

UK Bus: revenue increased 2.2% to £137.7m (2013: £134.8m), and operating profit by 2.0% to £15.3m (2013: £15.0m), though margins remained constant at 11.1%. Underlying commercial revenue grew by 3%, and passenger volume by 2%; underlying concession revenue grew by 2%.

Rail: c2c revenue rose 6.6% to £74.5m (2013: £69.9m), and operating profit was 12.5% up to £4.8m (2013: £5.4m). Margin increased from 6.9% to 7.2%. German operations will commence next year.

Spain: industrial action and aggressive rail competition contributed to falls in revenue, volumes and profits; in North America, the decline was due to extreme weather conditions.

653/Aug 14

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