* Sees FY pretax profit in range of 545-570 mln pounds
* Analysts expectations had been for 569 mln
* Shares down 3.8 pct
(Adds analyst comment, background, updates shares)
By Sarah Young
LONDON, July 24 Budget airline easyJet
forecast annual profit growth of 14 to 19 percent on Thursday,
tempering market forecasts set at the top end of the range and
sending its shares down 3.8 percent.
Providing its first guidance on full-year profit in its
third-quarter statement, easyJet said it saw pretax profit for
the 12 months to the end of September in a range of 545 million
to 570 million pounds ($928.5-971.1 million), factoring in the
impact of political events in Israel, Egypt and Russia.
Analysts had forecast pretax profit of 569 million for the
current financial year, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Shares in easyJet were down 3.8 percent at 1,348.5 pence by
0836 GMT, paring an earlier decline of as much as 8 percent.
"We think that this outlook statement adds to investor
unease that consensus forecasts have generally run ahead," said
Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Robin Byde, who rates easyJet a
The majority of brokers, however, are more positive on the
company with 15 out of 25 rating it either a "buy" or a "strong
The airline's low-fares model has helped it and budget rival
Ryanair weather an increasingly competitive European
short-haul market, while traditional carriers have struggled.
Air France-KLM, Europe's second-largest
traditional network airline, warned this month that its 2014
profit could be as much as 12 percent lower than previously
forecast, mainly due to overcapacity and weak prices.
Germany's Lufthansa last month lowered its profit
targets for the next two years.
In 2013 easyJet's shares doubled in value and rose earlier
this year to an all-time high of 1,853 pence in April. Since
then the shares have fallen by 27 percent amid questions about
its future rate of growth.
The airline, which reduced its cost per seat, excluding fuel
and currency movements, by 1.3 percent year on year, said its
performance gave it confidence in future growth.
"There are significant and profitable opportunities for
easyJet to grow within its core markets over the next three to
four years," the company said.
Numis analyst Wyn Ellis said easyJet's third-quarter
performance should be seen as "reassuring" in the context of
recent weakness in the share price and cited its revenue per
seat growth of 1.7 percent on a reported basis.
The airline for its part called the third-quarter
performance "solid". It added 6.8 percent in capacity in an
environment where competitor capacity on easyJet routes is
expected to be around 4 percent higher this summer.
"Traffic numbers have increased every month throughout 2014
with the busiest months of the year still to come," Accendo
Markets analyst Marc Kimsey said, referring to the summer
holiday months of July and August.
($1 = 0.5870 British Pounds)
(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Jason