Australia's Qantas Raises Full Year Profit Outlook

Takeover target Qantas Airways raised its profit outlook on Friday for the second time this year, forecasting growth of 25 percent to 30 percent over last year in profit before tax, well above market forecasts.

Australia's top airline, being courted by a consortium led by Macquarie Bank and Texas Pacific Group, said the outlook was driven by strong trading conditions and was subject to fuel prices staying around current levels.

The new forecast, up from an original one in August for no change in profit and a revised forecast in October for an unspecified profit increase, implies a profit before tax of between A$839 million and A$872 million.

Ahead of Friday's profit upgrade analysts were forecasting a profit before tax of around A$804 million ($628 million) for the year to June 2007, up 20 percent from A$671 million last year, according to Reuters data.

The upgrade comes as Qantas's board meets to discuss whether to engage in talks with Macquarie, private equity firm Texas Pacific and their partners, Pacific Equity Partners, Allco Finance Group and Canadian investment group Onex Corp.

Qantas said group passenger numbers for the four months to October rose 7 percent from the same period last year.

Total domestic yield for the four months to October rose 2 percent against the same period last year, while international yield rose 7.9 percent.