FIH trading gradually returning to pre-Covid levels
Falkland Islands and Britain-focussed specialist services provider FIH said in an update on Tuesday that trading activity was “heading back” to pre-pandemic levels, with its first-half progress continuing in the historically-stronger second half of the year.
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The AIM-traded firm said that as a result, it expected to deliver an underlying pre-tax profit for the 12 months ended 31 March that would “significantly exceed” market expectations.
It said its Falkland Islands Company (FIC) division, which was least affected by the pandemic, delivered overall results that were broadly consistent with the prior year.
The previous year's ban on tourists visiting the islands continued, although the restrictions were lifted on 4 May, which would facilitate their return in the southern hemisphere’s tourist season.
Trading at Momart, meanwhile, continued to improve, although activity was not yet fully back to pre-Covid-19 levels.
FIH said “particularly strong” results were delivered serving commercial clients in the autumn, due mainly to the return of Art Basel and Frieze London art fairs, and in March, which was traditionally Momart's peak trading period, from museum activity.
Elsewhere, passenger numbers on the Portsmouth Harbour Ferry were at around 80% of pre-pandemic levels over the autumn, but dipped in December following government guidance to work from home amid the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The company said recovery resumed following the lifting of that guidance at the end of January, and volumes were at about 76% of pre-pandemic levels for the month ended 31 March.
FIH said its cash position remained strong, with a cash balance at year-end of about £9.5m - £1.5m ahead of the half-year, and “broadly in line” with the balance at the end of the 2021 financial year after adjusting for the repayment of a £5m CBILS loan in June.
Bank loans totalled £14.2m, narrowing from £14.6m on 30 September, and included a £12.7m long-term mortgage on a freehold property at Leyton purchased in December 2018, for £19.6m.
“We believe the outlook for the group remains positive,” said chief executive officer Stuart Munro.
“Further opportunities to work with the Falkland Islands Government and the UK Ministry of Defence are being explored by FIC and a return of tourists in the austral spring would further boost trading.
“In parallel, costs are being carefully managed in Momart and Portsmouth Harbour Ferry Company in line with their ongoing trading recovery.”
At 1309 BST, shares in FIH Group were up 14.89% at 270p.
Reporting by Josh White at Sharecast.com.