Transport group Stagecoach has reported a nine per cent rise in first-half underlying profits, while stressing it is confident about its prospects.
In a statement today the bus and train operator confirmed its profit before tax and exceptional items rose to £84.6 million in the six months to October 31st up from £77.4 million for the corresponding period of last year.
Revenue for the group's continuing operations was also up 9.1 per cent at £820.8 million, with Stagecoach reporting strong growth across bus and rail operations in the UK and North America.
The company's revenue from continuing UK bus operations climbed by 8.1 per cent to £367.1 million over the first-half, while revenue from UK rail subsidiaries climbed 16.6 per cent to £322.7 million.
Stagecoach's revenue from its North American operations, excluding budget bus brand megabus.com, lifted by three per cent to $258.9 million (£126 million).
Looking ahead, the company said its long-term prospects remained positive notwithstanding rising fuel prices and weaker economic conditions in the US.
Stagecoach chief executive Brian Souter said: "We believe increasing car congestion, inward migration and a growing focus on environmental issues will provide more opportunities to attract passengers to our public transport services in the years ahead."
He added the group's new East Midlands rail franchise was set to deliver a further "significant" revenue stream for the business over the next eight years, while stressing Stagecoach had also become the UK's biggest tram operator and had made an "encouraging" start to its ten-year Manchester Metrolink contract.
Stagecoach, which said its budget bus and rail brands offered additional growth potential, concluded it was well-positioned to deliver further value to shareholders.