FirstGroup Shares drop as transport firm swings to loss

Shares in public transport provider FirstGroup (LSE: FGP) plunged 4.7% early Thursday after the company swung to a first-half loss.

The FTSE 250 firm reported a £68.5 million pre-tax loss for the six months to September 30, compared to a £37.0 million profit a year earlier. The loss was due to a £142.3 million pension charge.

Revenue dipped slightly to £2.21 billion from £2.22 billion a year ago. However, FirstGroup’s First Bus business saw revenue surge 77% thanks to increased passenger volumes.

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Despite the losses, FirstGroup hiked its interim dividend by 67%. The company also said full-year expectations remain unchanged. It forecasts reaching an adjusted net cash position of £20-30 million by next March.

Chief Executive Graham Sutherland said FirstGroup “is well-positioned to create long-term, value-accretive growth.”

Shares have jumped 66% year-to-date.