Eurotunnel H1 core profit rises, keeps goals
PARIS, July 22
PARIS, July 22 (Reuters) - Eurotunnel reported a 6 percent rise in first-half core profit on Tuesday, driven by a recovering British economy, and strong freight and passenger traffic.
The operator of the Channel Tunnel linking France and Britain - which carries Eurostar high-speed trains between Paris, Brussels and London, as well as shuttle trains containing passenger cars, coaches and freight trucks - kept its goal for higher profit this year and next.
"All our businesses are showing growth," Chief Executive Jacques Gounon told a conference call.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) reached 216 million euros ($292 million), in line with the average of analyst forecasts of 216.3 million in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll.
Eurotunnel is still aiming for EBITDA of 460 million euros this year and at least 500 million in 2015, against 449 million last year, Gounon said.
First-half revenue rose 8 percent to 559 million euros, with traffic growing 3 percent for truck shuttles and 15 percent for freight trains.
Eurostar was affected by French SNCF rail strikes in June, which limited passenger growth to 2 percent, but it broke the 5 million passenger bar for the first time, while its loss-making MyFerryLink ferry service achieved a 31 percent rise in revenue.
The future of the ferry business launched in 2012 was dealt a blow in June when Britain's competition regulator said Eurotunnel would have to stop operating the service in the next six months, confirming a decision it made in May.
Eurotunnel has said it would appeal against the decision that it said would mean higher prices for consumers and putting 600 people out of work.
Gounon said the "most likely scenario" was that MyFerryLink would have to cease operations by the end of the year even if the outcome of the appeal was still not known.
Eurotunnel posted a first-half net loss of 11 million euros, mostly tied to a 14 million loss at MyFerryLink. ($1 = 0.7397 Euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by James Regan)