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National Express Net Income Doubles as Travelers Choose Buses

July 28 (Bloomberg) -- National Express Group Plc, a U.K. bus and rail operator, said profit more than doubled as consumers in the U.K., Spain and the U.S. rode buses more to cut transport costs.

Net income was 54.1 million pounds ($89.3 million) compared with 19.2 million pounds a year earlier today the London-based bus and rail operator said today in a statement. Sales rose 5.6 percent to 1.12 billion pounds.

National Express is focusing on improving the profitability of its bus and rail businesses after borrowing to expand in U.K. rail. The government stripped National Express of the high-profile East Coast line between London and Scotland in 2009 after the company said it could no longer afford to fund the franchise.

The company is “well placed” to improve its operations, Chief Executive Officer Dean Finch said in the statement. “We are focused on organic growth, new contract wins and carefully targeted opportunities in attractive markets.”

National Express rose 1.8 pence, or 0.7 percent, to 252.1 pence at 8:11 a.m. in London. The company’s stock price is little this year, valuing it at 1.29 billion pounds.

The company ended a dispute with Elliott Advisors, one of its largest shareholders, in May by agreeing to appoint three independent non-executive directors. The U.S. hedge fund had challenged the company’s board over its strategy, proposing a breakup to boost its value.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven Rothwell in London at srothwell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net

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