TUI Travel eyes 10 percent full-year profit growth

LONDON Wed Aug 7, 2013 2:43am EDT

The logo of German tourism group TUI AG, owner of Europe's largest travel company TUI Travel, is pictured on a computer screen through sunglasses in this illustration picture taken in Lavigny May 20, 2012. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud

The logo of German tourism group TUI AG, owner of Europe's largest travel company TUI Travel, is pictured on a computer screen through sunglasses in this illustration picture taken in Lavigny May 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Valentin Flauraud

LONDON (Reuters) - TUI Travel TT.L, the world's largest tour operator, is confident of delivering full-year profit growth of at least 10 percent after reporting robust results in its third quarter.

The company, formed in 2007 through a merger between First Choice Holidays and the Thomson tourism unit of German group TUI (TUIGn.DE), on Wednesday posted an underlying operating profit of 76 million pounds ($117 million) in the three months to the end of June on revenues 5 percent higher at 3.86 billion pounds.

The group, which owns six European airlines including Britain's Thomson Airways, said 84 percent of its summer 2013 holidays were already sold and that the outlook was positive.

"Given our current position we remain very confident of achieving full year underlying operating profit growth of at least 10 percent on a constant currency basis," said Chief Executive Peter Long.

The company is expected to report an average 2013 operating profit of 455 million pounds, according to Thomson Reuters data.

TUI Travel said in the UK, summer booking volumes were up 4 percent, with average selling prices 7 percent higher. The company also said it had made an encouraging start to the 2013/14 winter season, with 21 percent of the winter program already sold.

The company, which made 11 million pounds of cost savings during the quarter, said 47 percent of its sales were now made online, up from 45 percent a year ago.

Rival travel group Thomas Cook (TCG.L) last week reported its first third-quarter profit since staving off bankruptcy in 2011 and said it had sold 85 percent of its planned capacity for the summer 2013 season.

Shares in TUI Travel, which have risen a fifth in the last three months, closed at 401.5 pence on Tuesday, valuing the group at around 4.4 billion pounds.

($1 = 0.6500 British pounds)

(Reporting by Rhys Jones; editing by Kate Holton)