Singapore Airlines beats expectations with highest profit in seven years

SINGAPORE, May 17 (Reuters) - Singapore Airlines Ltd on Thursday topped market expectations by reporting a 148 percent rise in full-year net profit to the highest level since 2011, as passenger and cargo revenue rose and it benefited from a transformation program. The carrier, a benchmark for Asia's premium airlines, made S$893 million ($665.62 million) in the year ended March, up from S$360 million a year ago and 28 percent higher than the S$697 million average forecast from 14 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The airline, like Hong Kong-based rival Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, has undertaken a three-year transformation program designed to cut costs and boost revenue amid competition from Chinese and Middle Eastern rivals and low-cost carriers. ($1 = 1.3416 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Himani Sarkar)