Stagecoach (LSE: SGC) lifts earnings per share by 66%.
Shares in Stagecoach Group (LSE: SGC) rallied 2.3%, or 6.70p, to 298.30p in early morning trade, as the bus and rail operator issued its interim results.
The owner of East Midland Trains and the budget coach brand megabus.com, among others, reported a 5.9% increase in group like-for-like revenue, up to £1,403.3m from £1,293.7m in 2011. Elsewhere, pre-tax profits leaped to £123.7m from £88.7m at the same stage last year, with total operating profit climbing 33% to £142m compared to £106.2m at H1 2011.
Management pinpointed "strong partnerships" as supplying growth across the board, with a further development of the alliance between South West Trains and Network Rail, as well as "successful fares strategy" delivering further revenue in its UK regional bus operations.
Stagecoach chief executive Sir Brian Souter commented:
"In the UK, we have achieved further growth in our regional bus operations and we continue to make good progress at our contracted London bus business. Passenger revenue growth remains good on our UK rail networks.
"In North America, we are pleased with the performance of the businesses acquired in the summer from Coach America. Our budget coach brand, megabus.com, continues to expand to new regions and we now offer low-cost travel to customers in around 120 locations in the United States and Canada.
"We see good potential ahead to grow our transport operations in the UK and North America, and we believe the outlook is positive. We are closely focused on the commercial opportunities from our investment in new technology, such as smartcards, digital marketing and social media. These developments are helping customers by making it easier to travel, easier to buy, and easier to get information. Innovation, value for money and strong operational delivery are also key elements of our ongoing programme to drive organic growth and we are making targeted acquisitions where these can add value to the Group."
Meanwhile, private investors will be boosted by the headline figure of a 66.3% increase in earnings per share, which now stands at 16.8p against 2011's 10.1p. Additionally, the interim dividend per share has risen 8.3% to 2.6p from 2.4p last year.
A rosy picture was painted for the future, too, with a "relatively modest" revenue growth expected for the second half, as well as plans to engage with the British government to help deliver "a better rail franchising model for passengers, taxpayers and investors".
Having previously hit a five-year low of 106p back in 2009, Stagecoach now represents a near-300% gain for canny investors who bought into the company when it was most unloved by the market in the depths of the financial crisis.
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> Sam does not own shares in Stagecoach. The Motley Fool has recommended shares in Stagecoach.