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Air Arabia shares soar to highest level in three years

Air Arabia rose to the highest level in almost three years on bets improved full-year profit may prompt the Middle East's biggest no-frills airline to pay a bigger dividend.

Air Arabia rose to the highest level in almost three years on bets improved full-year profit may prompt the Middle East's biggest no-frills airline to pay a bigger dividend.

Shares of the carrier rose 3.3 per cent to 93 fils, the strongest since May 2010, on volume of almost five times the three-month daily average, at the close in Dubai. The stock was the biggest gainer and most traded on Dubai's benchmark DFM General Index, which fell 0.1 per cent.

Air Arabia, which competes with Dubai state-owned FlyDubai, said last week 2012 passengers rose 13 per cent to a record 5.3 million. The airline started flights to nine new destinations from its hub in Sharjah including Basra and Erbil in Iraq, and Ufa and Kazan in Russia last year. Its 2012 profit probably jumped 50 per cent, according to the average estimate of eight analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

"Investors are happy with expected results for 2012 and anticipate the company to increase cash dividends," said Nabil Farhat, a partner at Al Fajer Securities. "The outlook is still positive with further revenue growth from overseas expansion and improved economic growth."

Air Arabia, which said yesterday its board will meet this week to disclose results, last year raised its 2011 payout to 6 fils a share from a proposed 4.5 fils. The stock has 12-month dividend yield of 6.5 per cent, compared with 6 per cent for Ryanair Holdings, Europe's largest low-cost carrier.

 

* Bloomberg News

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