Thomas Cook Drops to Three-Year Low as Terror Fears Hurt Travelby
Decline in Turkey pulls down company’s summer reservations
Brussels airport attack cuts outbound demand from Belgian
Thomas Cook Group Plc dropped to the lowest in more than three years as muted earnings and travel-market forecasts stemming from terrorism attacks in Turkey and Belgium coincided with the overnight disappearance of an airliner over the Mediterranean Sea.
Thomas Cook plunged 19 percent to 72.5 pence, the lowest intraday price since March 2013, and was trading down 17 percent at 9:50 a.m. in London. The stock has fallen 39 percent this year, valuing the tourism operator at 1.14 billion pounds ($1.67 billion).
Bookings for the crucial summer period are currently down 5 percent as Thomas Cook has been unable to sell alternative vacations to customers unwilling to travel to Turkey, its second most important destination, and demand from Belgium has dropped, the company said in a statement. Underlying earnings before interest and taxes for the year ending Sept. 30 will be in a range of 310 million pounds to 335 million pounds, compared with an average analyst estimate of 343 million pounds, it said.
“We underestimated the impact from weaker demand to Turkey,” where Thomas Cook’s German airline Condor is the market leader, analysts at Jefferies Group LLC, including Mark Irvine-Fortescue, said in a report to clients. “The airline has been less successful than the tour operator in remixing capacity to alternative destinations.”
A set of deadly bombings in Turkey, including one in Istanbul in mid-January that killed 11 German tourists, prompted service cutbacks or cancellations to the country by airlines including EasyJet Plc, TUI AG’s Thomson Airways and Delta Air Lines Inc. as well as some cruise-ship lines. Following terrorist attacks in Brussels in March, Brussels Airport was closed and its departure hall was only partially reopened at the beginning of May.
Thomas Cook released its fiscal first-half earnings report hours after state-owned EgyptAir said an Airbus Group SE A320 plane with 66 people aboard went missing en route to Cairo from Paris. Egypt’s navy has deployed ships to search the Mediterranean for the airliner. The plane’s disappearance follows a string of aviation-related incidents involving the North African country, including the crash of a Russian tourist flight in the Sinai peninsula that killed 224 people in October.