Sharewatch: Challenges for airlines in year ahead

AIRLINES quoted on the stock market have had a bumper last 12 months on the back of rising passenger numbers and lower oil prices

Ryanair has had a good year. Picture: PA

But despite strong gains for the likes of International­ ­Consolidated Airlines Group with shares up 24 per cent, easyJet (12 per cent) and Ryanair (up 62 per cent), Charles Stanley commentator Garry White cautions the sector may have to navigate a number of potential challenges in 2015.

Although White points out that few observers expect a recovery in the oil price which would unwind recent share gains, he said the biggest risk for the sector concerns capacity.

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“The last time the oil price fell sharply in 2008 a number of airlines started to ramp up the numbers of seats they ­offered.

“If capacity is increased too much in the sector then demand may fail to keep up with the latest round of expansion.”

White also argues that booming profits makes the sector a “soft target” for taxes.

“Gouging airline passengers may provide short-term budget relief for governments with stretched budgets. But taxes ultimately dampen demand,” he warned.

On balance White argues that with the sector currently having the tailwind of City support and falling costs keeping investors focused on the positives, 2015 looks like it could be another good year for the major players, provided they don’t over-extend themselves.

Exhibitions group TARSUS enjoyed a positive end to 2014 with events such as a flower show in Turkey and a plastics conference in Mexico registering strong performances.

Analysts at Liberum highlighted positive comments from the company on 2015 prospects with some of its key shows having bookings well ahead of the previous events.

Reiterating its buy recommendation, a research note said while the broker is maintaining its own forecasts it expects the market consensus to rise slightly.

Liberum has a 320p price target on the shares compared to last week’s closing price of 228p.

Monday: Taylor Wimpey (trading)

Tuesday: Greggs (trading)

Wednesday: Shoe Zone (F)

Thursday: Avesco (F)