(Adds share reaction, details)
By Francesca Landini
MILAN, March 9 Shares in Autogrill
jumped more than 5 percent on Thursday after the airports and
motorway caterer promised steady revenue growth over the next
three years following a 53 percent leap in 2016 net profit.
The Italian group, which runs restaurants and bars at some
of the busiest airports in the world, said it expected sales to
grow on average between 5 and 7 percent a year in the 2016-2019
The new guidance was calculated excluding the contribution
of a French business Autogrill sold last year and on the basis
of a euro/dollar exchange rate of 1.06, it said.
"The group expects good revenue growth in North America,
while it will focus on efficiency in Europe and Italy in
particular," Chief Executive Gianmario Tondato da Ruos told
analysts during a conference call.
Despite a difficult comparison with 2016 results, analysts
said the guidance indicated better-than-expected sales growth
and cited this as one reason behind the surge in the stock.
The group reported sales of 4.51 billion euros ($4.77
billion) last year, up 4.6 percent, including the effects of
acquisitions and disposals. This was just below a forecast of
4.54 billion euros, according to Thomson Reuters SmartEstimate.
The Milan-based group is reshaping its activities to boost
its presence at U.S. airports while streamlining its European
business. Last year it bought Stellar Partners, a U.S. airport
convenience retailer, and CMS, which runs restaurants at Los
Angeles and Las Vegas airports.
Tondato added that restaurants and bars in northern Europe
and in the rest of the world would continue to enjoy strong
growth and an improvement in profitability.
The group also pledged to pay between 40 and 50 percent of
its net income as dividends in the next few years after
proposing a dividend of 0.16 euros per share on 2016 results.
($1 = 0.9446 euros)
(Editing by Mark Potter)