National Express lifts profits guidance

TRANSPORT group National Express said it expects full-year profit to exceed market expectations, helped by a strong across-the-board performance in the fourth quarter.

The bus, coach and train operator said all parts of its business had performed well since October, with especially strong revenue growth at its British rail and coach businesses and in North America.

"The group has continued its strong progress during the fourth quarter, with ongoing growth in year-on-year profitability," the company said in a statement.

"As a result, the board now expects normalised profit before tax for 2010 to be a little above current market expectations and markedly stronger than was expected back in January 2010."

The company is expected to post an average pre-tax profit of 143.7m for 2010.

National Express said margin recovery at its UK bus unit was ahead of its plans and that its Spanish bus and coach businesses were growing despite tough economic conditions.

Shares in National Express, which have fallen 5 percent in the last month, closed at 227.2p on Thursday, valuing the company at around 1.16bn.

National Express surrendered the East Coast franchise to the Government a year ago.