The price of shares in FTSE 250 consumer travel firm FirstGroup (LON:FGP) tumbled by 14.74% to 41.93p (as of 11:00 BST) after its pre-tax loss for the year ended 31st March almost tripled. Passenger volumes dropped dramatically in March due to COVID responses and cost control measures were unable to fully mitigate this. Material uncertainties remain as to how quickly markets will recover and how Government support measures will taper off, meaning that the group is unable to provide full-year guidance.
CEO Matthew Gregory commented: “The funding and support we have received from governments and our customers to sustain critical transport services is testament to their importance now and for the future. We took rapid action to protect our ability to deliver continuity of the transport services that are so essential to our economies. Our priority since the start of the outbreak has been the health and safety of the Group’s passengers and employees. I am immensely proud of our people who are working so hard to support our communities during the crisis, by maintaining essential transport services and providing direct assistance to those who need it most.
“There is no way of predicting with any certainty how the coronavirus pandemic will continue to affect the public transportation sector and the impact it may have on customer trends longer-term. However, as leading operators in each of our markets we are strongly positioned for a recovery in passenger demand and for the opportunities that may emerge from this exceptional period. This will become ever more pertinent as the focus and drive towards zero-carbon public transportation systems inevitably increases, helping to create a better connected and more sustainable world.
“Despite the near-term uncertainty, the long-term fundamentals of our businesses remain sound. We are resolutely committed to delivering our strategy to unlock material value for all shareholders through the sale of our North American divisions at the earliest appropriate opportunity. The importance of public transport to society has never been more clearly demonstrated, and we will continue to take all necessary measures to enable the Group to emerge from this unprecedented situation in a robust position“.