Thomas Cook Group Plc replaced its chief financial officer after a botched travel forecast for an unusually hot European summer forced the tour operator to slash its forecast for the second time in two months.
The shares fell the most in two years after the London-based company said underlying profit for the year ending Sept. 30 will be 13 percent lower than the bottom end of a July 31 forecast that also represented a downgrade. Finance chief Bill Scott will step down, as the company brings in Sten Daugaard, a former Lego executive, on an interim basis.
Thomas Cook has expanded its fleet in the wake of some airline rivals exiting the market. But a prolonged period of hot weather this summer has acted as a disincentive for Europeans in England, Germany and Scandinavia to travel to warmer climates. Thomas Cook said Monday it had to offer discounts to entice travelers to its hotels across the Mediterranean.
The shares dropped as much as 26 percent in London, the most since the day after the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union. Thomas Cook was down 24 percent to 59.5 pence at 8:16 a.m.
Underlying operating profit will amount to about 280 million pounds ($366 million) in the year ended Sept. 30, the company said in a statement. Eight weeks ago, the company forecast it would come in at the lower end of a range of 323 million pounds to 355 million pounds estimated by analysts.
Daugaard will join on Oct. 1 and take over as finance chief on Dec. 1.
The company also said:
- Summer bookings are up 12 percent with 90 percent of program sold
- Average selling prices for summer are down 5 percent as the group’s airlines sold more short-haul tickets
- Winter bookings are 2 percent down, while average selling prices are up 1 percent after 43 percent of the program has been sold
- Impact of hot summer is continuing to be felt into winter trading
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