AAP Finance

Webjet shares plunge despite profit jump

By AAP Newswire

Webjet shares have declined more than 10 per cent to a six-month low despite the online travel agency increasing full-year earnings by 43 per cent to $124.6 million.

Webjet was down 11.05 per cent to $12.32 at 1433 AEST, while competitor Flight Centre was up 9.15 per cent on its earning results.

Webjet said its had $3.8 billion in travel bookings in the 12 months to June 30, up 27 per cent from last year.

Its revenue was up 26 per cent to $366.4 million and statutory net profit after tax rose 45 per cent to $60.3 million.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Tim Piper said the company had comfortably met its guidance of at least $120 million in earnings and called it a strong result.

"A lot of moving parts within today's result. However, the Webjet OTA (online travel agency) has performed well in a more challenging Australian leisure travel market, still outperforming the underlying market," he wrote.

The reason for the sell-off was not immediately clear, although Webjet said its partnership with struggling UK tour operator Thomas Cook was underperforming and likely to result in about half the number of bookings it had previously forecast.

Mr Piper said that was no surprise, however, given the issues facing Thomas Cook, which last week asked for another STG150m ($A269 million) from investors to stave off a Christmas cash crunch.

Webjet said its six-year-old WebBeds business-to-business division, which sells hotel rooms to online travel agencies, wholesalers, retail agents and tour operators, had continued its rapid growth following two acquisitions and was now the biggest part of its business.

In the 12 months to June 30, it made up 54 per cent of Webjet's $124.6 million in earnings, while Webjet's Webjet.com.au online travel agency contributed 48 per cent.

"It was a phenomenal year for our WebBeds business," managing director John Guscic said.

Mr Guscic said Webjet expected its Rezchain blockchain platform, which allows companies to share hotel booking data in real time to address mismatched information, would help it keep costs down.

The company said what it referred to as the "March 2019 Christchurch incident" - the mosque shooting that killed 51 - had reduced demand for travel in New Zealand, in particular severely impacting motorhome bookings through its Online Republic business.

"The incident" cost the company more than $1 million in earnings, Mr Guscic said.

Online Republic's cruise bookings were also down, Webjet said, blaming constrained capacity in the Australian home port market.

Mr Guscic said fiscal 2020 had gotten off to a strong start, with WebBeds bookings up 50 per cent and bookings on Webjet.com.au up 9.0 per cent, compared with the similar six weeks in 2018.

Webjet declared a final fully franked dividend of 13.5 cents per share, up from 12 cents a share a year ago.

WEBJET FY19

* Full-year bookings up 27pct to $3.8b

* Revenue up 26pct to $366.4m

* Statutory net profit after tax up 45pct to $60.3m

* Final dividend up 1.5 cents to 13.5 cents per share, fully franked.