LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) – British transport group National Express (NEX.L) reported a 36 percent increase in first-half pretax profit on Thursday as it benefited from improved operating margins and new contracts in North America.
The company, which runs coach services and rail franchises in the east of England, made a pretax profit of 75.7 million pounds ($118.2 million) in the six months to June 30. Its operating margin rose by 3.8 percentage points to 9 percent.
“Despite challenging economic conditions, greater operational focus is having a positive impact and we will continue to progressively drive improvement in performance and cut cost,” said Chief Executive Dean Finch.
National Express, which also operates yellow school buses in North America and a fleet of coaches and buses in Spain, said it expected trading to remain resilient in the next six months.
“We have secured growth opportunities, particularly in North America and Spain, in which we will selectively invest in the second half of the year,” said Finch.
The company, which raised 360 million pounds through a rights issue last November, said it expected to recommence dividend payments at the year-end, depending on its trading performance.
Shares in National Express closed on Wednesday at 242.9 pence, valuing the business at 1.25 billion pounds.
(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Victoria Bryan)