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Fraport First-Half Profit Drops 19% on Night-Flight Ban

Aug. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Frankfurt airport operator Fraport AG said first-half profit fell 19 percent as a night-flights ban, increased spending and a sluggish economy weighed on margins.

Net income attributable to shareholders declined to 84.4 million euros ($104.4 million) from 104 million euros a year earlier, Fraport said in its half-year earnings report today. Analysts had predicted profit of 88.4 million euros, based on the average of seven estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Flights from Frankfurt, Europe’s third-busiest airport and the chief hub of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, have been barred between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. since October following a court ruling linked to the opening of a fourth runway. Six-month cargo tonnage at the airport fell 9.9 percent as a result of the ban, with the drop heightened by a weaker global economy and the European debt crisis, while spending rose because of investment in the runway and a new pier.

Cargo tonnage at Frankfurt airport declined 7.6 percent from a year earlier in July, according to a separate presentation released today. Passenger numbers at the airport rose 3.7 percent that month.

‘Safe Side’

Management is “staying on the safe side” by restricting its passenger-traffic forecast at Frankfurt to less than 4 percent growth, said Sebastian Hein, an analyst at Bielefeld, Germany-based Bankhaus Lampe.

Fraport fell as much as 2 percent to 45.75 euros and was trading down 1.8 percent at 9:44 a.m. in Frankfurt. The stock has gained 21 percent this year, valuing the company at 4.22 billion euros.

The airport operator is sticking to a forecast in May of annual revenue exceeding 2.5 billion euros and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rising by at least 5 percent, even amid a “difficult period in the air-transportation industry,” Chief Executive Officer Stefan Schulte said in the statement. Net income should match last year’s figure of 240 million euros, he said.

Fraport, which also runs airports in Peru, Turkey and Bulgaria, said half-year revenue increased 2.5 percent to 1.15 billion euros. Ebitda advanced 2 percent to 366 million euros.

Passenger numbers at Frankfurt, which ranks after London Heathrow and Paris Charles de Gaulle among European hubs, rose 3.4 percent to 27.4 million during the six months. The group total increased 2.8 percent to 44.2 million travelers.

Excluding provisions for additional noise abatement measures, which amounted to 10.5 million euros in the period, results even slightly beat estimates, said Jochen Rothenbacher, a Frankfurt-based analyst with Equinet AG.

Lufthansa’s quarterly operating profit jumped almost 28 percent to 361 million euros, beating analyst estimates, as the effects of a 1.5 billion-euro efficiency program kicked in.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dorothee Tschampa in Frankfurt at dtschampa@bloomberg.net

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

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