National Express PLC (LON:NEX) saw its shares drive higher this morning after the transport operator posted strong growth in first-half profit despite softer trading in the UK, boosted by robust international performances.
For the six months to June 30, the FTSE 250-listed firm reported a 25.7% jump in group normalised pretax profit to £88.9mln, up from £70.7mln at the same stage a year earlier as group revenue increased by 16.2% to £1.17bn.
The group said the increased profits and revenue reflected strong performances in its North American, Spanish and Moroccan divisions, with international markets now making up 80% of the group’s earnings.
The firm – which exited the UK rail market with the sale of the c2c franchise in January – said its UK Bus business experienced “a half of two quarters with commercial revenue and overall profit broadly flat for the first six months of the year.”
National Express chief executive, Dean Finch said: “We have delivered a strong set of results, again benefiting from our internationally diverse portfolio of cash-generative businesses.”
He added:“We continue to see the benefit of our recent acquisitions in driving good growth and creating shareholder value.
“These acquisitions are also helping us to expand in new growth markets, but we will remain disciplined in the opportunities we pursue.”
The firm raised its interim dividend by 10.1% to 4.26p per share.
In afternoon trading, National Express shares were up by nearly 3%, or 10.5p at 368.0p.