Louis profits surge to CYP 9.4 mln

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Louis Public Co. Ltd. (LUI) reported its preliminary results for 2004, beating its own estimate for a quadrupling of profits compared to 2003 on the back of a strong rebound in the cruises division.

LUI reported that net profits surged four-and-half times or 352% to CYP 9.38 mln in 2004 from CYP 2.07 mln in 2003 with earnings per share climbing to 2.22 cent from 0.49 cent a year ago.

Louis Public Co. also issued a bullish forecast for its 2005 profits, stating that profits for 2005 will hover at or near the same levels of 2004.

Although the company did not indicate whether or not it will declare a dividend for 2004, yet analysts are forecasting that the company will at least match its 2001 dividend of 0.75 cent per share, when the Board meets by the end of March to approve the audited 2004 results and fix the date of the Annual General Meeting.

The cruises division was mostly responsible for the spectacular improvement in group results, as cruises profits surged to CYP 7.4 mln from CYP 2 mln a year earlier, despite accounting for CYP 4 mln in losses on the sale of two cruise liners as the group proceeded with a major reorganization of its fleet.

The Hotels division portrayed a mostly-unchanged picture, booking a net loss of CYP 788.000 in 2004 compared to losses of CYP 808.000 in 2003. The hotels division results were affected negatively to the tune of CYP 1.8 mln from the sale of assets, and positively from deferred taxation to the tune of CYP 2 mln, due to lower taxation charges in Greece.

The contribution of Louis Hotels to group results was CYP 1.1 mln in profits as Louis Public Co. increased its stake in Louis Hotels from 55% to 85% in June 2004.

The Cyprus Tourism Dev. Co. (Hilton Cyprus) also had a positive contribution to the overall group results, lifting its profits from CYP 0.9 mln in 2003 to CYP 1.3 mln in 2004 of which CYP 945.000 were reflected in the Louis Public Co. group results, in view of the fact that the group holds a 75.76% stake in the company.

Total turnover during 2004 increased by 41% or CYP 40.6 mln to CYP 138.5 mln with 93% or CYP 37.9 mln of the increase originating from the cruises division.

Operating profits were up 51% to CYP 34.9 mln with the cruises division again contributing most of the gains, while goodwill write-off charges fell from CYP 169.000 to CYP 89.000.

Net profits were reported at CYP 9.378.000 from CYP 2.072.000 in 2003.

BULLISH EXPECTATIONS

Last year the Group sold two of its oldest ships, the Princesa Victoria and the Princesa Cypria, but acquired three ships, the Thomson Destiny (former Sunbird), Aquamarine (former Carousel) and the Perla (former Seawing) as part of a major reorganisation of its fleet.

The cost of the disposal of the two old ships amounting to CYP 4 mln has already been booked in the 2004 results, but the fact that the Thomson Destiny, which is currently being refurbished and will only start its chartering contract with Thomson from May 2005, may lead to lower profits for the cruises division compared to 2004.

The mild hit to the cruises division will however be more than compensated by a strong rebound expected in the Louis Hotels division and the Cyprus Tourism Dev. Co. (Hilton Cyprus). Overall, the Louis Group is forecasting 2005 profits to remain at around the same levels of 2004.