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easyJet plc Lifts Profit Guidance

The shares of easyJet (LSE: EZJ) climbed 26p to 1,340p during early trade this morning after the budget airline lifted its full-year profit guidance.

The FTSE 100 member said pre-tax profits for the twelve months to 30 September would now come in between £470m and £480m. The company had previously stated within a trading update during July that annual profits would be between £450m and £480m.

easyJet’s statement this morning also revealed revenue per seat during the group’s fourth quarter was expected to rise by 6%, and that the cost per seat excluding fuel had advanced 4%.

The airline also noted passenger numbers during the year to September had increased by 4% to surpass 60 million and represent an 89.3% load factor.

Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of easyJet, said:

easyJet has delivered a strong performance in the last twelve months due to management action to generate value to our customers and maintain a tight control of costs combined with an unusually benign capacity environment.

easyJet’s great network, friendly customer service, cost advantage and strong balance sheet means it will continue to be a structural winner in European short haul aviation and to deliver sustainable returns and growth for shareholders.

Prior to today, City brokers had been expecting easyJet’s current-year earnings to surge 52% to 94.9p per share and the annual dividend to soar 46% to 31.5p per share.

Based on those estimates, easyJet’s shares may trade at 14.1 times possible profits and offer a 2.4% potential income.

The shares have been one of the market’s best performers during recent years, having quadrupled from a low of 303p set during 2011.

Of course, whether that steep share-price gain, the raised profit guidance and the general prospects for low-cost airlines all currently combine to make easyJet a 'buy' right now is something only you can decide.

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> Maynard does not own any share mentioned in this article.