* Sees H1 loss at 55-65 mln stg vs 70-90 mln guidance
* Helped by cost control, allocated seating initiative
* Shares rise 4.4 pct
(Adds analyst comment, share price)
By Sarah Young
LONDON, March 25 British budget airline easyJet
upgraded its first-half results forecast by 25 percent
on Tuesday, sending its shares close to an all-time high on the
back of tight cost control and the popularity of its allocated
EasyJet said it expected to post a pretax loss of between 55
million pounds ($91 million) and 65 million pounds for the six
months to March 31, an improvement on previous guidance for a
loss of 70 million pounds to 90 million pounds.
The group, which like rivals traditionally makes a loss over
the winter when fewer customers fly, reported a loss of 61
million pounds for the same period in 2012-13.
The upgrade was also helped by benign weather, which has
meant fewer weather-related disruptions, easyJet said.
EasyJet has over the last year stolen a march on bigger
budget rival Ryanair by introducing measures such as
allocated seating and allowing passengers to change their
flights in a bid to appeal to business travellers.
Shares in easyJet, up more than 60 percent over the last 12
months, jumped 4.4 percent in early trading to 1,704 pence,
putting them near an all-time high reached earlier in March of
Analysts said that although the company had not commented on
prospects for its fiscal second half, there were likely to be
upgrades to consensus forecasts.
EasyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall said the upgrade
showed the firm's "structural advantage" against not only rival
low cost carriers, such as Ryanair, but also legacy carriers.
Those former state-owned entities, such as Germany's
Lufthansa, are battling against low-cost carriers to
maintain market share in Europe's short-haul sector.
"I think what's encouraging is that the improvement is on
the revenue and the cost side," Panmure Gordon analyst Gert
Revenue per seat in the six month period is expected to rise
1.5 percent, easyJet said, higher than a forecast given in
January of "very slightly up", on a boost from allocated seating
and other initiatives.
The forecast improvement to easyJet's first-half performance
comes despite it guiding to a hit of up to 8 million pounds from
additional unit fuel costs for this first-half compared with the
same period in 2012-2013.
Analysts currently expect easyJet to report a pretax profit
of 560 million pounds for the year ending September 2014,
according to a Thomson Reuters poll.
($1 = 0.6065 British Pounds)
(Editing by Kate Holton and Mark Potter)