IAG posts solid results despite dip in fourth quarter profits

IAG posts solid results despite dip in fourth quarter profits

That was amid a 1.8% rise in total revenues to 22.97 billion euros (£20.25 billion).

Both passenger unit revenue and non-fuel unit costs were also expected to improve at constant currency.

The airline said it would return €500 million to shareholders during 2018 in its second share buyback in two years, as it also lifted its full-year dividend by 15 per cent to 27 cents per share.

Stockbroker Investec analyst Alex Paterson expects operating profit to rise 8.3% to €3.266m in 2018 and unit sales to increase 1%.

Operating profit before exceptional items was 3.01 billion euros compared to 2.53 billion euros, up 18.9 percent.

Walsh said margins improved as traffic on its key markets of North America and South America was strong.

Gerald Khoo, at Liberum said revenue was slightly light of its forecasts in the fourth quarter, fuel costs worse than expected but non-fuel costs slightly better.

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"The boost from cheaper oil will start unwinding from here on, so it would be great to see some meaningful progress made on non-fuel operating costs, which have so far ticked up broadly in line with the extra capacity added".

Aer Lingus owner IAG expressed confidence about 2018 on Friday and pledged more cash for shareholders but a fall in fourth-quarter profit sent its shares lower.

British Airways, meanwhile, reported a 7.2% rise in revenues to £12.27 billion.

Chief executive Willie Walsh (left) said: "All our airlines performed extremely well with their best-ever individual financial results, strong operational performances and commitment to customer service".

He highlighted the turnaround in Vueling, following its challenges in 2016, as being particularly "outstanding".

Davy Research's Stephen Furlong is impressed by the continued strong performance of Irish airline Air Lingus, flagging operating profit flew €36m higher to €269m previous year, driven by 12.1% more capacity.

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