(Alliance News) - Mobico Group PLC on Monday announced the departure of its chief financial officer as it released its delayed 2023 results and gave an insight into current trading conditions.

The Birmingham-based public transport provider, formerly known as National Express, had pushed back publication of its 2023 figures as it clarified accounting issues at its German rail business.

On Monday, Mobico announced a 2023 pretax loss of GBP98.3 million, narrowed from GBP225.3 million the year prior, while basic loss per share totalled 30.2 pence compared to 41.4p.

Revenue rose 12% to GBP3.15 billion from GBP2.81 billion.

Adjusted operating profit of GBP168.6 million in 2023 fell 15% from GBP197.3 million in 2022. This compared to guidance given in March of between GBP160 million to GBP175 million.

The total dividend was slashed to 1.7p per share from 5.0p.

Shares in Mobico were down 6.5% to 56.15p in London on Monday.

Mobico said the loss reflected GBP30 million of restructuring costs and a GBP99 million charge in its German Rail business.

In a "challenging year", Mobico said profitability was also hit by significant cost inflation, especially wage costs, and significantly reduced Covid subsidies, the company stated.

Revenue growth was driven by pricing and passenger volume increases across the group, Mobico said, including a record year at ALSA, its bus unit that operates across Spain, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland and France.

Chief Executive Ignacio Garat said: "Our 2023 results are below the expectations we set ourselves at the beginning of the year. The delays due to the additional work relating to the German Rail business was regrettable, but it is now concluded."

"Although group revenue growth was encouraging, driven by passenger demand and actions taken to recover inflation, this has not translated into an improvement in reported profitability," he added.

Looking ahead, Mobico predicted 2024 adjusted operating profit to be in the range GBP185 million to GBP205 million, meaning an improvement of at least 9.7%.

It said revenue in the first quarter rose 3.5% to GBP801.9 million, or by 6.7% at constant currency.

First quarter revenue at ALSA climbed 8.7% on-year, but North America revenue was down 0.8%, reflecting poor weather.

UK revenue rose 9.5%, predominantly driven by the UK Bus division.

In UK Bus, ticket price rises and passenger growth, including the non-recurrence of last year's driver strike, led to an annual increase of 18% in the quarter.

Mobico said James Stamp will stand down as group CFO on June 11.

Helen Cowing will join Mobico on May 8 and will be appointed as interim CFO on June 11. Cowling has previously held CFO roles at Selecta Group, Ideal Standard International BV and Octopus Group.

By Jeremy Cutler, Alliance News reporter

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