Who said it’s a tough time for the cheap flights industry? They certainly didn’t tell budget carrier Wizz Air Holdings (LSE: WIZZ).
The Wizz share price has soared 152% over the past three years and is up 1.75% today after announcing net record profit of €72.4m in the three months to 30 June. Passenger numbers also rose an impressive 20% to 10.4m. Management also looked forward to “encouraging summer trading,” raising hopes of yet more fun in the sun.
The Wizz share price has been boosted by a 25.4% rise in revenues to €691.2m, while net profit of €72.4m more than reverses last year’s €29.3m loss. Net margins rose 1.2 basis points, from 9.3% to 10.5%.
As well as carrying more travellers, Wizz has also been boosting ancillary revenues per passenger, up 17.7% to €30.10 each. Total costs increased 25.5% to €598.6m, while total cash at 30 June was €1.64bn, of which €1.46bn was free cash.
Fresh and new
Wizz is flying while other carriers stall, helped by its focus on less mature markets in Central and Eastern Europe. It has an average aircraft age of just 4.9 years, “one of the youngest fleets of any major European airline,” and continues to invest, signing of a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for the purchase of 20 Airbus A321XLR aircraft.
Chief executive József Váradi said recent performance was achieved in the face of higher fuel prices, thanks to rigorous cost management and ancillary revenue generation. Higher prices may actually have helped as “weaker carriers withdraw unprofitable capacity.” Váradi also reconfirmed full-year guidance of €320m-€350m net profit.
You can still buy this £2.67bn FTSE 250 stock at a reasonable 15 times forward earnings, with a price-to-revenue ratio of just 1.1. There’s no dividend as Wizz is still at the early growth stage, having only floated in February 2015.
Airlines can be a volatile sector, but Wizz is firing on all cylinders, with the all-important passenger load figure now at 93.7%, up from 92.1% last year. It may struggle to repeat recent share price growth, and there is no dividend, but could still prove a good long-term buy.
Not so easy
So what about rival budget carrier easyJet (LSE: EZJ)? Its stock has risen just 6% over three years, but it flew 24% in the last month, helped by a trading statement showing a “robust” third quarter performance, with revenue up 11.4% to £1.76bn.
Passenger revenue increased 10.7% to £1.39bn while ancillary revenue increased an even better 14.3% to £374m. The figures eased investor nerves and easyJet tempts with a juicy dividend yield of 6.5% covered twice.
No deal, no worry
The group has recovered nicely from recent struggles, but a lot will depend on how Brexit goes, as a no-deal departure could plunge it back into unwelcome turbulence.
The same goes for Wizz Air as well, although the danger may be overdone as earlier this year the EU agreed to allow “basic connectivity” for a year, to prevent planes being grounded the day after a no-deal Brexit.
The future is up in the air but I’m not too worried as both easyJet and Wizz Air appear to have their feet firmly on the ground.
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Harvey Jones has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Wizz Air Holdings. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.