* Says profits to grow 7 pct, not 12 pct
* To add 6 mln seats in winter, up from 4 mln
* Average fares to fall by as much as 15 pct
(Updates with share price rise; CEO quotes on growth
By Conor Humphries
DUBLIN, Oct 18 Ryanair cut its annual
profit forecast on Tuesday due to a weaker pound, but its share
price rose after it said it expected to boost its market share
in the coming months by selling more tickets at cheaper prices.
Europe's largest low-cost airline, which expects sterling to
account for a quarter of its earnings this year, said an 18
percent slide in the pound against the dollar following the
country's vote to leave the European Union had forced it to cut
its profit forecast by 5 percent. Fare prices may drop by
between 13 percent and 15 percent, it said.
The airline said it expects net profit for the year to March
31 of between 1.3 billion euros ($1.46 billion) and 1.35 billion
euros, down from a previous forecast of 1.375 billion euros to
1.425 billion euros.
The mean forecast of 16 analysts polled by Reuters ahead of
the profit warning was 1.38 billion euros.
Ryanair's warning follows a number of similar statements
from rivals including low-cost carrier easyJet and
British Airways-owner IAG and Germany's Lufthansa
Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said the reduced forecast
"remains heavily dependent upon no further weakness in
second-half fares or sterling from its current levels."
Having fallen 0.5 percent in early trading, Ryanair shares
were up 3.5 percent at 0933 GMT after O'Leary told analysts that
he expected Ryanair's sales and market share to grow in the
"We are in a low-fare environment, but we like low-fare
environments because we are the lowest-cost producer," O'Leary
said. "We are taking very significant traffic away from
incumbents ... and we see that continuing."
Ryanair's policy is to maintain passenger numbers whatever
the fare and then earn money on extras such as fees for choosing
seats and on-board refreshments.
O'Leary said Ryanair planned to increase passenger numbers
to 119 million from an earlier forecast of 117 million, piling
further pressure on competitors. Ryanair is currently receiving
around 50 planes a year from Boeing and O'Leary said he would
consider adding more planes than scheduled in 2018 or 2019.
Rival easyJet, which depends on the UK for around
half of sales, has already cut its profit forecast by a quarter
for the year to Sept. 30 in the wake of the Brexit vote.
British airline Monarch last week was kept alive by a 165
million pound ($205.18 million) bailout from investors, having
warned in September that security concerns and the devaluation
of the pound had made market conditions difficult.
"Tough trading conditions are an opportunity to make
strategic progress at the expense of weaker competitors,"
Liberium analyst Gerald Khoo said in a note.
He said the warning was not a surprise as the company had
already indicated there were risks to the downside, adding that
the valuation more than adequately reflected the uncertain
Ryanair said fares in the six months to the end of September
were also weaker than expected, falling 10 percent, but that
this was offset by better than expected cost performance.
($1 = 0.8928 euros)
(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by David Goodman and