Shares of U.K. airline easyJet fell Tuesday despite the company reporting a better-than-expected pretax loss for the first half of its trading year and an increase in revenues.
Airlines notoriously suffer during winter months with lower passenger numbers and this proved to be the case for easyJet. It made a pretax loss of £53 million ($89.5 million), better than its own guidance of a loss of between £55 million and £65 million. It was also a narrower loss than the £61 million it recorded in the first half of 2013.
"We're on track for the second half of the year," CEO Carolyn McCall told CNBC Tuesday. She added that the company was growing organically and looked forward to making further progress in the second half of the year.
Total revenue increased by 1.5 percent year-on-year on a constant currency basis.Growth in business passengers was one of the pleasing aspects of Tuesday's results, McCall said, stating that the number now using Easyjet had reached 12 million in the last 12 months, a rise of 8 percent. Those passengers tend to book later which results in higher ticket prices and better returns for the firm.
"We're growing in our core markets, we're not really growing into new markets," McCall said, outlining that recent deals with Gatwick, Luton, Bristol, Malpensa and Geneva would drive growth.
Although the company gave an upbeat tone and the figures were better than their own expectations, investors took the opportunity to sell its shares. By 9 a.m. London time its share price had lost 4.7 percent.
"Whilst we remain hugely optimistic about the long-term prospects of this business, in the near term we expect the shares to pause for breath," Gert Zonneveld, an analyst at Panmure Research said in a note after the earnings. Panmure maintained its "hold" recommendation on the stock and its price target of 1800 pence.
Geopolitical tensions remain the biggest threat for the airline, she said, with ongoing tensions in Egypt and Ukraine. However, she added that easyJet was less affected than some rivals.