A strong showing as the Irish Ferries owner reveals latest results...
Irish Continental Group enjoyed revenue of €325.4 million in 2016, as the shipping and transport group brushed off the Brexit threat to see annual growth of 1.5%.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) jumped 10.6% to €83.5 million, while basic earnings per share (excluding the net interest cost on defined benefit obligations) was 8.7% higher at 31.4 cent.
ICG chairman John B McGuckian attributed the strong financial performance of the Irish Ferries brand owner to increased car and freight volumes and improved charter revenues.
There was a 5% rise in roll on, roll off (RoRo) freight volumes to 286,100. The number of cars carried was up 3.3% to 414,100. Container volumes climbed 6% and port lifts 15.9%.
The impact of the Brexit result last June was felt to a certain extent, most notably due to currency changes.
The group stated that, as a net receiver of sterling, "a weaker sterling exchange rate has had a negative effect on year-on-year comparisons. This has been a significant headwind for the group in 2016, as sterling weakened materially during our peak summer season. The weakening of sterling reduced our average tourism yields, however this was partially offset by the reduction in sterling denominated costs."
ICG reported that, despite the current uncertainty surrounding the impact of the UK decision to leave the EU and the weakness of sterling, the Irish Sea markets continue to perform well.
In terms of outlook, McGuckian stated:
"Due to the ongoing improvement in the economic outlook in our sphere of operations, we look forward, to another year of volume growth in our markets, but with higher fuel prices and weaker sterling.
"Nonetheless, we expect 2017 to be a year of strong cash generation and to see the continued strengthening of our balance sheet. We look forward to the arrival in 2018 of our new ship which will bring cost savings and significant additional earnings potential to the group."