North America keeps FirstGroup on track

Shares of Aberdeen-based bus and rail giant FirstGroup rose about 5% after it said its reported group revenue rose 12.8% in the quarter to December 31, helped by favourable currency translation and growth in its North American operations.

FirstGroup said group revenue in constant currency was flat, with the growth in North America offset by previously announced UK rail franchise changes and First Bus trading.

In constant currency, revenue at FirstTransit in North America rose 5.5% in the third quarter, Greyhound like-for-like revenue rose 1.2% and First Student revenue rose 1%.

FirstGroup CEO Tim O’Toole said: “Our overall trading performance continues to support our expectation of good progress for the current year.

“Our substantial North American operations are delivering encouraging performances and are benefiting from currency tailwinds, but we continue to experience tough trading conditions for our First Bus and First Rail operations in what remains an uncertain UK macroeconomic environment.

“We remain focused on disciplined execution to deliver significantly increased cash generation for the full year.”

In North America, First Student is the largest provider of student transportation with a fleet of around 47,000 yellow school buses, First Transit is one of the largest providers of outsourced transit management and contracting services, while Greyhound is the only nationwide operator of scheduled intercity coach services.