July 12, 2018 / 8:46 AM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-Dart Group soars as its Jet2 brands power profit upgrade

(Adds share price, analyst comment)

LONDON, July 12 (Reuters) - Dart Group, the owner of British airline and tour operator Jet2, said annual profit this year would substantially exceed market forecasts as Britons book more holidays, sending its shares soaring.

Shares in Dart rocketed 34 percent to 995 pence at 0845 GMT, hitting an all time-high, after the group which runs Britain’s third biggest airline in terms of passenger numbers behind easyJet and British Airways, posted its confident outlook.

Analysts who cover the stock upgraded their forecast for pretax profit by an average of 55 percent, taking the new consensus forecast for the year to March 31 2019 to about 175 million pounds ($231 million).

That came after Dart posted pretax profit which jumped 49 percent to 134.6 million pounds for the year ended March 31 2018, boosted by foreign exchange gains and as it took more people on holiday, and prompting it to lift its total full-year dividend by 42 percent.

Dart’s airline Jet2.com competes against Ryanair and easyJet, while its package holiday business Jet2holidays competes against TUI Group and Thomas Cook. Like its rivals, Dart has benefited from strong appetite for holidays from UK passengers.

The Jet2 brands have like the other operators been helped by the demise of British rival holiday company and airline Monarch last year.

Arden Partners analyst Andrew Simms said the holiday business’s focus on customer service was paying dividends.

“We believe these results and the full-year 2019 outlook represent a strong validation of Dart Group’s strategy and expansion plans. The flexibility of the Group’s leisure offering and focus on service should continue to differentiate Dart Group versus the competition,” he said.

Dart’s executive chairman Philip Meeson owns almost 38 percent of the company, which also has a logistics and distribution arm. ($1 = 0.7565 pounds) (Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Kate Holton)

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