No-frills airline Ryanair yesterday posted a betterthanexpected rise in fullyear profits - but warned soaring oil prices would cut into the forthcoming year's performance.
The Dublin-based carrier, which operates a number of flights from Birmingham, said it hoped for a five to ten per cent increase in the current year after hedging most of its fuel needs for the busy summer season.
Europe's biggest lowcost carrier said net profit before exceptional items rose 12 per cent to 302 million euros (£270 million) in the year to the end of March, versus a 299 million euros (£206.2 million) forecast.
The profit compared with the company's own target of 295 million euros. (203.4 million).
Turnover for the year increased 28 per cent to 1.69 billion euros (£1.16 billion).
Chief executive Michael O'Leary said: "This robust performance validates our lowest fare/lowest cost model which continues to grow profitably in Europe even during adverse market conditions, when many of our competitors are reporting losses."
Mr O'Leary said Ryanair guaranteed it would not introduce a fuel surcharge even if oil reached $100 a barrel.
Ryanair was cautious, however, about the current business year given that it expects its winter season to be hit by high oil prices, the cost of launching new routes and competition.
"We expect that profit growth will be more modest in the five per cent to ten per cent range if oil prices remain at $70 a barrel," the company said.
John Sheehan, analyst at NCB Stockbrokers, described it as a "fairly positive statement overall" but said higher fuel costs meant he may have to trim his earnings forecast.
"Excluding fuel, they've achieved a six per cent reduction in other costs which is pretty good," he added.
Following the statement shares in Ryanair, which have fallen 17 per cent this year amid the rising cost of fuel, slipped further.