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Kenya Airways Jumps Most in 2 Weeks on Profit Bet: Nairobi Mover

Kenya Airways Ltd., sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest airline, rose the most in more than two weeks on speculation the company recorded a first-half profit.

The stock advanced as much as 9.5 percent and closed 2.1 percent higher at 9.65 shillings in Nairobi, the biggest gain since Sept. 12. Investors traded 132,600 shares, about 49 percent of the three-month average daily volume.

Passenger numbers in the five months through August increased while costs declined, Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni told reporters Sept. 26 after the Nairobi-based company’s annual general meeting in the capital. JamboJet, the company’s low-cost carrier, will begin operating in the first quarter of 2014, Naikuni said. Kenya Airways plans to start a direct service to Guangzhou, China, with three flights a week from Nov. 19, the airline said in an e-mailed statement today.

“There is speculative sentiment that the company is now in positive territory and that has seen increased demand for the company’s shares,” Ted Macharia, an analyst at Nairobi-based AIB Capital Ltd., said by phone.

The terrorist attack on a Nairobi shopping mall that killed at least 72 people is unlikely to affect Kenya Airways, “because June to September, which is peak season for European visitors, has passed,” Macharia said.

The terrorist assault has affected tourism in the “immediate term,” Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie told reporters in Nairobi today. “Tourism is such a resilient sector, it will recover.”

The carrier posted a loss of 7.86 billion shillings ($91 million) in the 12 months through March, compared with a profit of 1.66 billion shillings a year earlier, Kenya Airways said June 14.

The stock has declined 15 percent this year, compared with a gain of 31 percent on the FTSE NSE 25 Share Index.

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