February 7, 2020 / 8:49 AM / 15 days ago

Finnair shares jump on surprise profit

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Feb 7 (Reuters) - Finnair reported a surprise quarterly profit on Friday and reiterated that it expects minimal impact to first-quarter profit from the coronavirus, sending the Finnish flag carrier’s shares up 6%.

Fourth-quarter earnings per share fell to 0.17 euros from 0.24 euros, but analysts had forecast a loss of 0.11 euros per share.

Revenue rose 13.4% to 774.9 million euros ($850 million), driven by growth on its European routes. Analysts had expected revenue of 744 million, Refinitiv data shows.

Finnair proposed a 2019 dividend of 0.20 euros per share, compared with a forecast of 0.11 euros.

Asia accounts for more than 40% of Finnair’s passenger revenue, but the airline repeated that the financial impact from the coronavirus in the first quarter would be “relatively limited” even if mainland China flights are cancelled until the end of March. “The first quarter and especially the weeks following the Chinese New Year are typically seasonally weak for Finnair’s mainland China routes in terms of profitability,” it said.

However, the company said it would not issue a 2020 revenue estimate because of the coronavirus.

Finnair has cancelled all its flights to mainland China until the end of February and on some Chinese routes until March 29. ($1 = 0.9119 euros) (Reporting by Tarmo Virki in Tallinn Editing by David Goodman)

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