AirAsia's first-quarter net profit rises 33 percent

KUALA LUMPUR Tue May 20, 2014 7:12am EDT

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KUALA LUMPUR May 20 (Reuters) - Budget airline AirAsia Bhd said first-quarter profit rose by 33 percent due to improved passenger numbers, foreign exchange gains and deferred taxes.

Net profit for the three months ended March 31 climbed to 139.7 million ringgit ($43.48 million), from 104.8 million ringgit for the same period last year. Most analysts covering AirAsia do not provide forecasts for quarterly earnings.

The firm, run by entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, is Asia's biggest budget airline by passenger numbers.

It saw profits slide 55 percent in the last financial year, hit by volatile currency moves and gruelling price competition in its home market from Malindo, an affiliate of Indonesia's Lion Air and Malaysian Airline System.

Its shares have lost about 28 percent over the past 52 weeks versus a 6 percent rise in the benchmark Malaysian index .

Last week, Malaysian Airlines reported its worst quarterly loss in over two years on lower passenger traffic and cancelled bookings after flight MH370 disappeared in March . ($1 = 3.2130 Malaysian Ringgits) (Reporting by Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah, Yantoultra Ngui and Anshuman Daga; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Pravin Char)

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