LONDON Feb 23 Transport group National Express
lifted its guidance for free cash flow on Thursday after
lower fuel costs and strong international demand helped it to
beat profit expectations, sending its shares higher.
Its shares rose to a 1-1/2 month high of 350 pence, up 2.4
percent at 1024 GMT.
The firm increased its free cash flow guidance to 120
million pounds ($149.54 million) from 100 million pounds, and
said it would lift its dividend by 10 percent, as a result of
its strong earnings and the disposal of its UK rail business.
In January, National Express agreed to sell a London rail
contract to Italy's Trenitalia to mark the departure of what
used to be one of the biggest names in British rail.
Normalised operating profit from continuing operations rose
14.2 percent to 219 million pounds, while normalised earnings
per share for all operations including UK rail rose to 27.3
pence. Analysts at UBS said the operating profit was ahead of
The company sees strong growth in North America and record
passenger numbers in Spain and Morocco, while there was a
resilient performance from its British bus business in
challenging market conditions.
($1 = 0.8024 pounds)
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Susan Thomas)