The Motley Fool

Flight Centre: Profits fly higher

Global travel agency Flight Centre (ASX: FLT) has produced record earnings per share (EPS) up 12.4% to 91.7 cents for the half year to December 2012. Founder and CEO Graham “Skroo” Turner sets himself a high hurdle, as even a record result had him sounding disappointed and expecting more on the earnings conference call. Flight Centre continues to expand its global footprint with sales in China growing 31% to $73 million, while on the domestic front Australian sales grew at 9% to $4 billion.

Customers have been taking advantage of the strong Australian dollar and low prices to travel more, which have helped Flight Centre produce its record earnings. Noticeably however, results have been mixed for the airline industry with Qantas Airways (ASX: QAN) increasing profits but Virgin Australia (ASX: VAH) reporting declining profits.

Meanwhile, the online booking space is heating up. Internet powerhouse Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) undertook a “soft” launch in September 2011 of its Google Flight Search after purchasing travel software provider ITA. It appears that Google has quietly been modifying and testing this product, with news in December 2012 that the product had recently been upgraded. Google Flight Search now offers international routes, whereas at first it was purely USA domestic.

This could be bad news for other online providers including Webjet (ASX: WEB) and Wotif (ASX: WTF). For now, it doesn’t seem to be concerning investors though, with the Australian Financial Review reporting that the 12-month total shareholder return (TSR) for Flight centre is 56.6%, with Webjet just topping that at 61.4% and Wotif returning a 36.7% TSR.

Foolish takeaway

Competition is a concern for all businesses and likewise investors have to pay attention to competitive threats. It can be hard sometimes to not overly emphasis a threat, even when there is an opportunity. So far, Flight Centre has continued to find opportunities to grow profits even in the face of the online threat.

The Australian Financial Review says “good quality Australian shares that have a long history of paying dividends are a real alternative to a term deposit.” Get “3 Stocks for the Great Dividend Boom” in our special FREE report. Click here now to find out the names, stock symbols, and full research for our three favourite income ideas, all completely free!

More reading

The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Click here now for your free subscription to Take Stock, The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead.  This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson. Motley Fool writer/analyst Tim McArthur does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

NEW. Five Cheap and Good Stocks to Buy in 2019…

Our Motley Fool experts have just released a brand new FREE report, detailing 5 dirt cheap shares that you can buy today.

One stock is an Australian internet darling with a rock solid reputation and an exciting new business line that promises years (or even decades) of growth… while trading at an ultra-low price…

Another is a diversified conglomerate trading near a 52-week low all while offering a 2.8% fully franked yield…

Plus 3 more cheap bets that could position you to profit over the next 12 months!

See for yourself now. Simply click the link below to scoop up your FREE copy and discover all 5 shares. But you will want to hurry – this free report is available for a brief time only.

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE REPORT!