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Profits fly for Flight Centre

27 Feb 2013 THE AGE - GLENDA KWEK



FLIGHT Centre has set profit and sales records for the first half of the 2013 reporting year, as it looks to increase its focus on corporate and premium customers and further integrate its online and in-store businesses.

The travel company reported a net profit of $91.8 million for the six months to December, a 13 per cent increase from the previous corresponding period, despite consumer and business confidence headwinds.

It declared a fully franked interim dividend of 46¢ per share. The shares fell 79¢ to $31.50.

The company said its growth outlook for 2012-13 was marginally ahead of targets, and it would continue to aim for profit before tax of $305 million to $315 million, with its best months ahead.

"Australia and the UK are now entrenched as the company's largest and second largest profit generators and again delivered record [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation] in challenging trading conditions," Flight Centre's managing director Graham Turner said.

The company's online portal reported a 23 per cent first-half growth in sales and was on track to reach $5 million EBIT this year.

Flight Centre said it would focus on growing its corporate and premium flights sector and fully implementing its "blended model", allowing customers to seamlessly move between shopping online and in-store.