Listed Estonian shipper Tallink Grupp AS and its subsidiaries carried 1.9 million passengers in the first quarter of 2018, 0.5% less than during the same three-month period last year. Its unaudited revenue dropped 3.9% on year to €184.2 million.
Unaudited earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) totaled €4.2 million, down from €5.3 million in the first quarter of 2017, while the unaudited net result was a loss of €19.6 million, down from a net loss of €20.3 million in the first quarter of 2017, Tallink told the stock exchange.
The maintenance and repair of the cruise ferry Baltic Princess, which is one of the four ships operating on the company's Finland-Sweden routes, affected the segment's first quarter carriage volumes and financial result. Charter and charter-related revenue decreased compared to the same period last year due to fewer ships in charter. Maintenance and repairs lasted 68 days.
The number of passengers travelling on Tallink Grupp ships on Estonia-Finland routes increased by 1.3%, or 13,300, to 1.025 million. Pressure on ticket prices due to increased competition resulted in a decline in average ticket prices as well as lower ticket revenue.
The number of passengers on the company's Finland-Sweden routes decreased by 9.9% to 523,000. The segment's revenue decreased by 9.2% to €62.7 million, however the segment's result improved by €500,000 as fewer trips resulted in lower ship operating and marketing costs.
The Estonia-Sweden route's first-quarter revenue increased by 6.2% on year, supported by a 5.7% rise in the number of passengers and a 15.9% increase in transported cargo units.
The revenue of the Latvia-Sweden route increased by 24% on year, with growth supported by a 16.8% rise in the number of passengers and a 62.6% increase in transported cargo units.
Charter and charter-related revenue, meanwhile, decreased by €2.8 million, as fewer ships were chartered out compared to the first quarter in the previous year. Two Superfast ferries were sold in December 2017, and one Superfast ferry remains chartered out.
CEO: Tallink eyeing 5% dividend yield
Tallink has set its sights on achieving a dividend yield of 5% on the market price of its share in the near future already, CEO Paavo Nõgene said in conjunction with the release of the group's first-quarter results.
"Tallink is currently already able to offer more to its shareholders, but we must definitely make an effort to be able to do so in the future as well," Nõgene said in a press release on Friday. "I find that, as a realistic goal, we should try to achieve a dividend yield of nearly 5% on the market price of the share for investors in the near future already. This is a goal we must move toward."
In its report for the first quarter of 2018, Tallink Grupp said that this May, the company's management board decided to raise the minimum dividend rate by 50% to €0.03 per share. The management board has stated that the company is working to ensure that Tallink Grupp is a stable payer of dividends, and that the dividends paid to investors will increase over time.
At the annual general meeting on 12 June, the management board and supervisory board will propose to shareholders to endorse €0.03 per share as the dividend for 2017 as well.
Tallink Grupp shares closed at €1.08 on the Tallinn Stock Exchange on Thursday.
Editor: Aili Vahtla