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Aviation services group, John Menzies, could be soaring again soon as its share price reversed its downward trend following a turbulent few months. John Menzies, which provides refuelling, cleaning and cargo handling to airlines pushed up its profit forecast this week and its shares rose almost six per cent to 435p at the time of writing.
The aviation services firm has hit hard times recently, not least because of disruption caused by the grounding of Boeing Max 737s earlier in the year. However, it has reported a host of new contract wins and renewals, including remits from EasyJet, Lufthansa and Qatar Airlines. So, is this stock about to take off or is there more turbulence to come?
Investors will be pleased that the group’s turnaround plan is still on track to deliver around £10m of savings through this year and next despite a challenging trading environment. John Menzie’s Chief Executive, Giles Wilson delivered a confident trading statement saying: “The improvements in our operational delivery, commercial activities and customer engagement have been key and I look forward to seeing the benefits of this come through as we progress.”
The group also reported that the conclusion of a legacy legal case has led to an inflow of £10 million which should have a positive impact on net debt which continues to track as planned. After a difficult year which included a profit warning in July and a reshuffle of the firm’s senior board, the group looks like it could be showing some signs of recovery against what has undoubtedly been a challenging backdrop for the aviation industry. Chairman, Phillip Joenig, looked to further inspire confidence saying he believes profits can ‘substantially increase’ through 2020.
The statement has received mixed reactions from analysts though – while some including Peel Hunt issued ‘buy’ ratings for the group, others were sticking with ‘sell’ for the moment.
The new contracts certainly seem promising – John Menzie’s turbulence earlier in the year has been blamed on flight schedule reductions and weaker cargo volumes, and with the demise of Thomas Cook and potential problems for FastJet, no one can deny that 2019 has brought tough times for the aviation industry.
John Menzies, which operates in 219 airports in 37 countries is now trading ‘broadly in line’ with full year expectations after desultory half year results in July which revealed a pre-tax loss of £4.4m.
Whether or not the aviation services group, one of Scotland’s oldest company, can continue its upward trajectory may depend on the headwinds from the industry at large. But the fact that its turnaround plan is showing success, especially in the current climate, has to be encouraging for investors.
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