Transat A.T. Inc. - Results for Fiscal 2002 - Return to profitability

MONTREAL, Jan. 16 /CNW Telbec/


- Revenues exceed $2 billion despite the events of September 11 and their impact on the travel industry, decreasing by only 1.7% compared to fiscal 2001.
- Transat recorded a net income of $7.8 million or $0.18 per share compared with a net loss of $99.0 million or $3.07 per share in 2001 which included an after-tax charge of $94.8 million for unusual items.
- Fourth quarter revenues reach $525.8 million compared to $401.3 million in the corresponding quarter of 2001.
- Transat maintains a sound financial position with $260.1 million in cash and cash equivalents (including $101.3 million held in trust), and cash from operations generating $184.0 million in 2002 compared with cash and cash equivalents of $84.6 million (including $41.8 million held in trust) and the use of $12.0 million in cash from operations in 2001.

Transat A.T. Inc., one of the 10 leading leisure travel companies in the world and the leader in Canada, recorded revenues of $2,086.7 million for the year ended October 31, 2002, compared with $2,121.9 million in 2001, a decrease of approximately 1.7%. The Corporation recorded a net income of $7.8 million for the year ($0.18 per share), compared with a net loss of $99.0 million ($3.07 per share) in 2001.

In 2001 the Corporation took an after-tax charge of $94.8 million related to the write-off of certain assets and other unusual expenses principally as a result of the events of September 11.

The year-end results were better than expected in the context of the uncertain climate generated by the events of September 11. "Transat's response to these events which included a decrease in capacity, a reduction of employees and tightening of all other expenditures resulted in a bottom line that exceeded our expectations when we began the fiscal 2002 year," stated Jean-Marc Eustache, President and Chief Executive Officer of Transat A.T. Inc.

"The Corporation has a sound balance sheet and its quick return to profitability is reassuring. This is indicative that Transat A.T. is a sizeable integrated tour operator, far more than an airline company. I am proud of what our employees achieved under extremely difficult circumstances," he continued.

Fiscal 2002 highlights
Revenues for the winter 2001-2002 season were down by approximately 11% and the Corporation's net loss for the winter season was $3.3 million compared to a net income of $15.8 million for the same period last year. These decreases were due mainly to a sharp decrease in sales volume in the Canadian market which was slowly recovering from the events of September 11, resulting in reduced margins. The market in France also witnessed a decline in sales volume although not as pronounced as in the Canadian market.

Revenues for the summer season showed an improvement of over 10% compared to 2001. Net income for the summer season was $11.1 million compared to a net loss of $114.8 million in 2001, which included an after tax charge of $94.8 million for unusual items. This was the result of an improved market in Canada in terms of sales and margins, and of the measures undertaken by the Corporation in response to September 11. The market in France weakened substantially as concerns over terrorist attacks mounted and economic conditions deteriorated.

Fiscal 2002 also saw the Corporation raise funds by issuing debentures in the amount of $71 million net of issue costs in order to solidify its cash position and withstand other potential downturns in the market. Fourth quarter highlightsFor the fourth quarter, the Corporation posted revenues of $525.8 million, compared with $401.3 million for the same period the previous year representing an increase of approximately 31%. For the quarter, the Corporation recorded net income of $4.8 million compared to a net loss of $25.8 million excluding unusual items in the corresponding quarter of 2001. In Canada, demand continued to recover, while in France demand continues to be weak.

Fiscal 2003 will be a challenging year. In Canada, the Corporation is encouraged by the levels of its bookings which are ahead of fiscal 2002 levels at the same date, but trail fiscal 2001 levels. A significant amount of capacity has returned to the market place (especially in Ontario) which will undoubtedly result in margin pressures.

In France the Corporation expects to see an overall improvement but poor economic conditions continue to hamper a full scale return to leisure travel.

In addition, on a macro level the threat of war in Iraq and other terrorist acts will cause the Corporation to manage very conservatively.

Subject to the above, an improvement over fiscal 2002 results is expected, although not yet back to more normalized levels.

Transat A.T. Inc. with its head office in Montreal is an integrated company specializing in the organization, marketing, and distribution of holiday travel. The core of its business consists of tour operators in Canada and France. Transat is also involved in air transportation, hotel management, and value-added services offered at travel destinations, as well as in distribution through travel agency networks. Transat is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE:TRZ).

Forward-looking statements
This news release contains certain forward-looking statements with respect to the Corporation. These forward-looking statements, by their nature, necessarily involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by these forward-looking statements. The Corporation considers the assumptions on which these forward-looking statements are based to be reasonable, but cautions the reader that these assumptions regarding future events, many of which are beyond its control, may ultimately prove to be incorrect since they are subject to risks and uncertainties that affect the Corporation. For additional information with respect to these and other factors, see the Annual Information Form and Annual Report (Management Discussion and Analysis) filed with Canadian securities commissions. The Corporation disclaims any intention or obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


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