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Ferry group ICG set to weather the post-Brexit storm

By Michael Cogley

Published 15/07/2016

Irish Continental Group chairman John B McGuckian
Irish Continental Group chairman John B McGuckian

The ferry group led by Northern Ireland businessman John B McGuckian has been tipped to "sail through" the effects of Brexit.

But stockbroker Davy reduced its earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) targets for Irish Continental Group (ICG) for the next two years, citing a cautious outlook on car volumes. The stockbroker has dropped its EBITDA target for the company for 2016 down to €85.2m (£71m) from €90m (£75m).

Despite the UK's decision to leave the EU, Davy has kept its rating for ICG at outperform.

It announced in May that it would invest €144m (£120m) in a new ship with a capacity for 1,885 passengers and 300 cars.

Davy analyst Stephen Furlong said the new ship represents "an opportunity to underpin the group's medium-term earnings".

"ICG is a high quality, industrial transport name with an enviable track record of best-in-class operating efficiency and optimal capital allocation," Mr Furlong said in a note.

"However, we are marking to market recent dislocation following the Brexit outcome for current exchange rates and fuel."

Last year the Irish Ferries parent, which is headed up by chief executive Eamonn Rothwell, generated around 20%, or €69.5m (£58m), of its revenues from sterling point of sales.

ICG's share price was one of a host of firms involved in a bloodbath on the Irish Stock Exchange on the day after the Brexit vote.

Its shares dipped by 9.17% in early trading on Friday, June 24.

Analysts have tipped the company to become debt free in 2016. In the opening quarter ICG reduced its net debt down to €25.9m (£22m) from €44.3m (£37m) at the start of the year.

Speaking at the company's AGM in May this year, Mr Rothwell didn't seem overly concerned by a Brexit, saying preparing for such an event was "a waste of time".

John B McGuckian has chaired ICG since 2004.

Belfast Telegraph

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