Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Thai Airways International Pcl rose to a five-month high in Bangkok trading after the country’s largest carrier said it may return to profitability this year as passenger bookings rebound.
The shares gained 1.9 percent to 26.75 baht as of the 12:30 p.m. local time break, set for its highest close since Aug. 23. They earlier climbed as much as 3.8 percent, outpacing the benchmark SET Index’s 0.6 percent increase.
The state-controlled carrier may record a profit this year after an earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the worst flooding in about 70 years in Thailand plunged the company into a net loss in 2011, Thai Airways Vice President Raj Tanta-Nanta said in a phone interview today.
“Thai Air will have a strong turnaround of its earnings in 2012 as the number of passengers have rebounded strongly following the floods,” Nalyne Viriyasathien, an analyst at DBS Vickers Securities (Thailand) Co. Ltd. in Bangkok, said by phone today. “Travel demand especially in Asia will still be the key driver for its revenue growth.” She upgraded the stock to “buy” from “neutral” and raised her share-price estimate to 34.5 baht from 20.5 baht.
The airline had a net loss of 4.81 billion baht ($156 million) in the first nine months of 2011 from a profit of 11.96 billion baht in the same period a year earlier. The company is scheduled to report full-year earnings this month.
Thai Airways expects revenue to grow between 7 percent and 7.5 percent annually during 2012 to 2018 as passenger numbers rise, Executive Vice President Chokchai Panyayong said on Feb. 3. The airline’s cabin load factor may rise by 4.6 percentage points to 74.98 percent in 2012, the company said in a statement then.
--Editors: Chan Tien Hin, Matthew Oakley
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