First Group
IVERPOOL, UK - APRIL 20, 2013: Passengers board London Midland and First Group trains in Liverpool Lime Street Station, UK

Transport operator FirstGroup (LON:FGP) reported strong full-year results on Thursday, driven by increased demand for its Student services.

The company saw pretax profit for the year ended March 31 rise to £152.6 million, up from £113.5 million the previous year. Revenue rose to £5.65 billion from £5.22 billion, boosted 8.3 percent by First Student and First Transit and favourable currency translation.

Adjusted earnings per share increased by 20.4 percent, with the group seeing a substantial increase in net cash inflow to £147.2 million. This figure stood at just 36 million the year previously, before rail franchise outflows.

The company said in a statement that it was “encouraged by this year’s improved financial results, with our largest division First Student delivering a significant margin improvement despite continued driver recruitment challenges.”

However, it noted that its First Bus and First Rail operations have faced “more challenging market conditions this year.”

Mentioning the fatal tram crash in Croydon last November, the company said:

“We are profoundly sorry that such an incident could take place aboard a service we operate. We are focused on understanding the exact cause of this incident and will continue to provide our full support to the ongoing investigations. Our thoughts remain with the families and friends grieving for the seven people who lost their lives, and those who were injured and affected by this terrible event.”

However investors remained unimpressed with the stronger-than-expected results, warnings on the continued economic uncertainty in the UK countering the potential for growth. FirstGroup was one of the biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 on Thursday, with shares currently trading down 7.48 percent at 138.60 (0853GMT).