News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 1st February 2016

Ryanair shares soar as third quarter profit more than doubles

Airline announces €800m share buyback programme, raises full-year traffic guidance

   

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary. The airline raised its full-year traffic forecast again to 106 million from a previously guided 105 million.

Shares in Ryanair surged on Monday after it announced third quarter pre-tax profits that were 110% higher.

The airline said pre-tax profit for the three months to the end of December rose to €103 million from €49 million a year earlier, while passenger traffic jumped 20% to 25 million.

The company also reported revenues that were up 17%, rising from €1.13 billion to €1.33 billion.

Ryanair attributed the jump in profits and passenger numbers to a 1 per cent decline in average fares to €40 million and improved customer service.

The airline raised its full-year traffic forecast again to 106 million from a previously guided 105 million and is up 17% on the 90.6 million customers recorded 12 months earlier. Ryanair said fourth quarter traffic is expected to be up by 26%.

The company also announced an €800 million share buyback programme, which is to commence later this week. It said by the time the buy-back is completed, it will have returned in excess of €4 billion to shareholders since 2008.

Shares in the airline were up by nearly 6% to €14.48 in Dublin in afternoon trading.

“We are pleased to report that our low fares policy delivered strong third quarter traffic and profit growth. It is clear that millions of new customers are switching to Ryanair for our “load factor active/yield passive” pricing, our expanding route network and the success of our Always Getting Better customer experience programme,” said chief executive Michael O’Leary.

“Following a strong first half of the third quarter, we noted weaker pricing and bookings immediately after the terrorist events in Paris and Brussels. We reacted to this softness by running price promotions and discounted fares to stimulate double digit traffic growth. While average fares fell 1%, this was offset by lower unit costs,” he added.

Ryanair said unit costs fell by 5% during the three months to the end of December. Fuel, which represents some 40% of the airline’s cost base, was down 10% per customer.

The airline said again it expected full-year net profits to be towards the upper end of the €1.175 billion and €1.225 billion range. However, it stressed the guidance is dependent on the absence of unforeseen events impacting close-in bookings and yields, especially over Easter.

Davy, in a note to investors said Ryanair continues to demonstrate an industry-leading cost position with cash generation continuing to be “spectactular.”

“Despite the announcement of the share buyback programme of €800 million for a nine-month period and likely aircraft funding in cash, we expect Ryanair to continue to have a significant net cash balance sheet. We are likely to broadly maintain our forecasts at current levels and retain our €16.50 price target,” it said..

New Irish car sales up 34% as Hyundai topples VW from top spot

Volkswagen slips to fourth place as Korean brand Hyundai becomes the best-selling brand

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Hyundai is the best-selling new car brand on the Irish market this year, with the Tucson being the most popular model on the market last month

New car sales rose 33.6% in January compared to the same month last year, with 39,812 new 161 registrations.

Hyundai finished the month as the best-selling brand with 5,062 registrations, ahead of Toyota with 4,852. Ford took third place with 4,383 but Volkswagen has slipped down to fourth with 3,748. The German brand, at the centre of an emissions scandal since last September, previously led the Irish car market for several years.

Of the rest, Nissan takes fifth place with Renault in sixth and Skoda – another brand in the VW Group – slipping to seventh.

Hyundai’s Tucson was also the best-selling model for the all-important first month of the new 161 registration plate, well ahead of the Ford Focus in second place and the Volkswagen Golf in third.

According to Stephen Gleeson, managing director of Hyundai Ireland, a strong order bank for February suggests the Korean brand will retain its lead, but with global demand strong and factories operating at capacity levels supply might become an issue later in the year and that may limit the brand’s ability to finish the year on top.

In the premium segment Audi finished January ahead of BMW, despite trailing it for most of the month.

With economic recovery taking hold, only four brands recorded a drop in sales: Citroen, Subaru, Seat and Porsche, the last two members of the VW Group.

There was strong activity towards the end of the month in the car hire market, with 1,714 vehicles registered for hire drives. Renault, Volkswagen, Seat, Skoda and Audi were the most active brands in this sector.

Diesel remains the most popular engine type with 69.3% of sales, but that is down from nearly 72% last year. There has been a slight pick-up in petrol sales, rising to 28.9% of the market. Electric cars sales have fallen back, with just 50 sold last month compared to 115 for January last year, but this may be accounted for in the growth in sales of plug-in hybrids models, recording 619 registrations last month compared to 358 for the same time last year.

New charges for green bins, but overall waste bills are likely to fall

Lower bills will come to those who separate waste properly and increase recycling

   

The charge for green bins was initially due to be implemented last summer, but was postponed.

A new system of household bin charges involving payment by weight will cut bills for 90 per cent of householders, according to a spokesman for the Department of the Environment.

The new system, which will come into effect across the State on July 1st, involves a fee for green bins for the first time. It was due to be implemented last summer but was postponed for a year.

The department spokesman said the new arrangements would mean the vast majority of households would pay less if their refuse was sorted properly.

“This is an environmentally sound policy that will benefit most householders and ensure the polluter pays,” he said.

The department says that on average each household produces about 1,000kg of waste a year.

It says an estimated 87% of households will get a reduced bill if they segregate their waste properly, 8.5% of people will pay the same and only 4.5% may be liable for an increased charge.

The new scheme is being backed by the Irish Waste Management Association which represents companies collecting almost 75 per cent of the country’s waste.

It says the system will ensure all domestic waste customers will have a clear and consistent service that they will be able to influence through the correct segregation and recycling of all household waste into the correct bins.

Statin use doubles type 2 diabetes risk and increases risk of complications,

A study finds

   

Statin use doubles type 2 diabetes risk and increases risk of complications, a study finds.

Statin use triggers weight gain and increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and diabetic complications, according to a new 10-year study.

However, the research, which was conducted at the University of Texas, does not indicate that patients at risk of heart diseasewho currently take statins should stop taking them. Rather, it urges healthcare professionals to weigh up the potential risks associated with statin treatment before prescribing.

How was the study conducted?

The study involved more than 25,000 participants. 3,982 participants were on statin treatment, and 21,988 were not. All of the study’s participants were considered “healthy adults”.

Over the ten years, the participants who took statins had double the risk of type 2 diabetes, and their risk of being diagnosed with complications was 2.5 times that of the non-statin group.

“The risk of diabetes with statins has been known, but until now it was thought that this might be due to the fact that people who were prescribed statins had greater medical risks to begin with,” said Dr. Ishak Mansi, of the University of Texas, who led the study.

“I am sceptical about the prescribing guidelines for people at lower risk [of heart disease]. I am concerned about the long-term effects on the huge population of healthy people on these drugs who continue for many years.”

However, Mansi was keen to point out that this study does not mean that patients should stop taking their statins. Rather, it should be used to inform the prescription guidelines for statins. For those at risk of heart disease but not yet taking statins, the study may encourage them to find alternative ways to lower their risk.

“No patient should stop taking their statins based on our study, since statin therapy is a cornerstone in treatment of cardiovascular disease and have been clearly shown to lower mortality and disease progression,” he said to Medical Research.

“Knowing these risks may motivate a patient to quit smoking to lower risk rather than swallowing a tablet, or may motivate a patient to lose weight and exercise.”

The findings are published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Diabetes and statins: a complicated relationship

Statin treatment and type 2 diabetes have a complicated relationship. More than half of people with type 2 diabetes are taking statins at the time of their diabetes diagnosis. Statins are frequently prescribed for people with diabetes, because diabetes increases the risk of heart disease.

However, numerous recent studies have indicated that statin use increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, leading many commentators to question the wisdom of prescribing them. When one weighs up the risks of statin treatment against the benefits, it does not seem like a good idea. Research shows that 99 per cent of users will not benefit from their treatment. For every 1,000 people at risk of heart problems, statin use over three years prevents seven heart attacks, four strokes and two deaths.

However, with more than 17.5m people in the UK at risk of heart problems, preventing those problems in just one per cent of that population prevents thousands of deaths. Many commentators, therefore, argue that statin treatment has its values, but that the guidelines for prescription should be more carefully considered.

Mutant fish with ‘feet, toes and a human nose? stuns scientists

AN ALIEN-LOOKING creature compared to “something out of a sci-fi horror film” has terrified fishermen and stunned scientists.

    

The weird animal (pictured above) had scales like a fish but two feet with toes, no fin, a long bone on its back and even a “perfectly formed” human nose above its mouth.

It is thought the “alien” cannot swim but instead walks on the seabed.

It was found by disbelieving fishermen on the tiny island of Carriacou in the Caribbean.

The find comes just a week after a bizarre “alien” fish with legs and a bullet-fast bite was discovered in New Zealand.

One islander said: “Everyone crowded round to look – nobody had ever seen anything like it.

“Quite a few people were pretty scared and thought it looked like something out of a sci-fi horror film.”SSEX

“It looked like something out of a sci-fi horror film.”

Carriacou is just 200 miles from Barbados, a favourite winter hangout for Brits and even celebrities such as Rihanna and Simon Cowell.

Veteran fisherman Hope McLawrence, 74, said: “I have never seen anything like it.

“The wings and tail looks extremely complicated.

“By the look of the creature it cannot swim but apparently walks on the sea bed.

“This has shocked me since I never thought that a creature like this even existed, much less in the harbour of these shallow, unfriendly waters.”

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