Half Year results for the period ended 30 June 2019

25 July 2019 7:00 AM

Another record performance driving growing returns

Dean Finch, Group Chief Executive said:

“I am delighted to report another record set of results, primarily driven by organic revenue, profit and margin growth in every division. Group free cash also grew strongly. We are currently trading ahead of expectations despite the impact of unprecedented bad weather in North America.

“Our disciplined diversification means we have a portfolio of businesses that enable global best-practice and efficiency to be shared, while allowing local growth opportunities to be pursued. Our strong cash generation continues to allow investment in new technology and strategic acquisitions to drive organic growth and new market expansion.

“The prospects for growth are strong. We continue to drive improvements in our core bus and coach businesses, add significant new contracts like Rabat and expand in newer markets such as Switzerland and US shuttle, through our recent WeDriveU acquisition.

“We retain a disciplined focus on growing shareholder returns. The Board has again demonstrated their confidence in our future growth with another 10% increase in the interim dividend. With many opportunities to pursue, we are confident of our future prospects.”


Financial highlights


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HY 2018


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Continuing operations





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Group statutory operating profit





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Free cash flow


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Interim dividend






Highlights: organic revenue and profit growth in every division

  • Record Group profit, with statutory operating profit up 15.3% to £113.1 million: 
    • Primarily driven by all divisions growing organic revenue;
    • Organic growth accounts for c.80% of the normalised operating profit increase.
  • All divisions have grown operating margin, driving Group margin up 60 bps to 10.4%.
  • ROCE is flat at 12.2%, post-IFRS 16 implementation; or up 80 bps on a like-for-like basis.
  • Interim dividend increased by 10% to 5.16p (2018: 4.69p).

Operational excellence: 

  • Revenue growth in all main divisions:
    • ALSA: grew by 11.7% in constant currency to €442.1 million;
    • North America: grew by 8.2% in constant currency to $812.3 million;
    • UK: grew by 4.2% to £285.3 million;
    • German Rail: (6.8%) because of presentational change; underlying growth of 5.4%.
  • Record normalised operating profits in our international divisions combined with continued strong UK growth:
  • ALSA: grew by 12.8% in constant currency to €54.8 million;
  • North America: grew by 9.3% in constant currency to $83.3 million;
  • UK: grew by 15.7% to £36.6 million.
  • Commercial passenger growth in every division, with Group passengers up 1.7%.
  • A successful North American School Bus bidding season, with rates secured for next school year higher than driver wage inflation:
  • Average rate increase of 5.9% on expiring contracts, or 3.9% across our whole portfolio, above the prevailing wage inflation of 3.4%

Technology investment driving innovation, efficiency and excellence

  • RMS and sophisticated pricing continues to drive organic growth:
    • Spanish long haul revenue grew 7.5% and passengers increased by 10.5%;
    • UK coach’s core revenue grew 4.7% and passengers increased by 3.7%;
    • Forecasting algorithms and machine learning driving next RMS growth phase.
  • Environmental leadership by signing up to the UN’s Sectoral Decarbonisation Approach climate science based targets.
  • Rapid deployment of industry-leading technology alongside enhanced driver coaching and management is helping all divisions improve year-on-year safety performances.

Targeted expansion through strategic acquisition and new market entries

  • Four acquisitions made in the period, three in the US and a small Spanish business:
  • The US acquisitions are: a significant majority stake in Silicon Valley’s premier employee shuttle business, WeDriveU, announced in April; and two transit and charter operators that also provide entry in to non-emergency medical services and growth in the university shuttle segments.
  • A strategic move into the growing UK accessible transport market, drawing on our US expertise with July’s award of the majority of Birmingham City Council’s home-to-school contract. These services start in August: In the final stages of acquiring Accessible Transport Group (ATG), the West Midlands-based previous operator, with 600 staff and 400 vehicles.
  • The mobilisation for the new Rabat contract is well advanced ahead of September’s start. With this contract, ALSA becomes the largest private transport operator in Morocco with strong further expansion opportunities apparent in this significant growth market.
  • The first of our three Rhine-Ruhr Express services successfully started in June. Mobilisation for the next, starting in December, is well underway and when the third launches in December 2020, we will operate five German Rail contracts.
  • Disciplined approach demonstrated by yesterday’s sale of Ecolane for $42 million in cash, plus a $10 million equity stake in the acquirer’s rapidly-growing technology fund:
    • Consideration is a significant multiple of the original purchase price.



National Express Group PLC  
Chris Davies, Group Finance Director 0121 460 8655
Anthony Vigor, Director of Policy and External Affairs 07767 425822
Louise Richardson, Head of Investor Relations   07827 807766
James McFarlane 0207 379 5151


There will be a presentation and webcast for investors and analysts at 0930 on 25 July 2019. Details are available from Mads Neumann at Maitland. 

Download full announcement in PDF format

Normalised operating profit, normalised PBT, normalised EPS, margin, organic growth, free cash flow, net debt, gearing and ROCE are alternative performance measures. The definitions of these, along with an explanation of constant currency basis, are set out on page 22.

Legal Entity Identifier: 213800A8IQEMY8PA5X34

Classification: 1.2 (with reference to the DTR6 Annex 1R).


The dividend will be paid on 20 September 2019 to shareholders on the register at close of business on 30 August 2019.

Further reading