April 12, 2018 / 7:07 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-UK travel group Saga says profit up slightly, bookings positive

(Adds details on guidance, travel business)

April 12 (Reuters) - Saga Plc, an over-50s travel and insurance company, reported a small rise in full-year pretax profit after its tour operations were hit by the collapse of Monarch Airlines, but said its travel business had “excellent” visibility this year.

Saga, which offers ocean and river cruises, singles holidays and escorted tours, said underlying pretax profit rose to 190.1 million pounds ($269.5 million) in the year ended January, from 187.4 million pounds a year earlier.

“In a challenging market we have delivered a set of full-year results which is in line with the rebased profit expectations set at the end of 2017,” CEO Lance Batchelor said.

Reported pretax profit fell 7.6 percent to 178.7 million pounds, hurt in part by refinancing costs and savings.

Saga said it had already secured the majority of its full-year 2019 travel sales targets due to its customers’ preference to book holidays in advance.

The company, however, reiterated that its underlying profit would be about 5 percent lower in the year ending January 2019.

The failure of Monarch, the largest British airline to go bust, affected nearly 900,000 passengers in total and hit Saga’s tour operations, leading Saga to restructure its travel business in January. ($1 = 0.7053 pounds) (Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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