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UPDATE 1-Tour operator Transat beats estimates as margins improve

Thursday, 12 Dec 2013 | 7:59 AM ET

* Fourth-quarter profit C$1.40/share vs est. C$1.00

* Company returns to profit this year

* Revenue rises 6 pct

Dec 12 (Reuters) - Canadian tour operator Transat AT Inc posted better-than-expected earnings for the third straight quarter as higher prices and cost-cutting boosted margins.

The Montreal-based company, which offers discounted air fares and vacation packages, also posted its first full-year profit since fiscal year 2010 as initiatives such as capacity cuts at its airline, Air Transat, showed results.

"The higher average selling prices offset (Transat's)decision to reduce capacity on all its markets," the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Transat's Class B shares have more than doubled since June 13, when the company said it expected to return to profit this year.

Transat's net profit tripled to C$54.7 million ($51.5 million), or C$1.40 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31 from C$16.6 million, or 43 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue rose 6 percent to C$808.6 million.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of C$1.00 per share on revenue of C$764 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Transat competes mainly with WestJet Airlines' WestJet Vacations and Air Canada's Air Canada Vacations in the vacation package industry.

Transat shares closed at C$13.50 on Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.