Financial Comparison of Ryanair and British Airways

LiquidityRyanair is considered as the pioneer of the low-cost business model, while British Airways is constantly ranked amongst the world’s best legacy carriers. Both of these airlines are dominant companies in their segment with high passenger numbers and vast network coverage. Therefore the following question rises – how these airlines are different in terms of finance and which business model is more fruitful in the middle of an economic downturn? In order to find the answer a thorough financial investigation has been conducted relying on the data outlined in the airlines’ annual reports.In the first section of the report the emphasis is put on the current financial situation of the airlines, while outlining the existing sources of finance. These sources are investigated thoroughly in the second part. The final section evaluates the possible or available sources to finance future investments.Review of Ryanair’s and British Airway’s current financial situation Ryanair in the fiscal year of 2012 has generated a total of €4,390.2m operating revenue mainly through scheduled revenues. The company has increased its operating revenues since 2010 by €1,2bn primarily due to fare increases. In 2012 the total operating expense was €3,707m. This is also the peak in the last three years, mostly attributable to fuel and oil costs, which have almost doubled since 2010. Hence the net profit for the 2012 fiscal year was €560.4m, the highest in the history of the company. British Airways in the fiscal year ended 2011 December 31 accounted a profit of £672m after paying the taxes. This can be considered as a significant improvement after 2010’s profit of £170m.Current ratio is a liquidity measure that compares the liquid or current assets of the airline with its current liabilities. (Atrill, McLaney 2002)For the fiscal year of 2012 Ryanair’s CR was 2.1355, which represents high liquidity. Generally the higher ratio is considered to be the better. According to Morrell the industry general ratio is 1.00. This suggests that Ryanair is capable of financing its short term commitments towards banks and suppliers However, it must be noticed that the airline has significantly high cash reserves, namely €2.7bn. Such rate suggests for the banks and suppliers that the company is low risk for investment and has high liquidity, but also proposes that the cash is being accumulated to finance future aircraft orders or other investments. The fact that the cash reserves has grown with €1.2bn in the last two years also underpins these assumptions.(Morrell 2007)British Airways has a low current ratio of 0.7531. It points out the problem that BA cannot finance its current assets from its current liabilities. Thus, it can be assumed that the short term debts are financed through the more expensive long term loans. The company’s cash reserves are £1.7bn, which is considerably lower in comparison to Ryanair’s reserves. This can result in higher interest rates as the airline is not considered as a safe investment for lenders. According to Moody’s credit rating company BA’s credit ratings were B1 and BB in 2011. Also being a legacy airline BA works with more third party suppliers like travel agents and these issues can mean that the pay-outs are delayed. It is important to note that Ryanair and the low-cost business model do not use travel agents.The operating margin gives an indication of management efficiency in controlling costs and increasing revenues as it represents the operating profit as the percentage of total revenues.Comparing to last year’s results, both airline’s ratios have remained flat, namely 14% for Ryanair and 5.2% for BA. It means that on every pound or euro BA makes £0.05 profit, while Ryanair €0.14. However, the low-cost model seems to be more profitable, but it must be taken into account that they are also operating in a lower cost structure. Also, BA has managed to generate a positive operational margin as in 2008 and 2009 its values were negative. Return on Equity (RoE) is the net profit after interest and tax expressed as percentage of shareholder’s funds.BA has achieved a 26.2% RoE in 2011, while the same value for Ryanair was 16.9%. It means that BA is making more profit from the shareholders money. The shareholder’s money is only the one-third of BA’s asset, while Ryanair is half founded by the investors.Gearing ratio is a measurement of the contribution of long-term lenders to the long term capital structure of a business.Ryanair’s gearing ratio was 53.98% in 2012, which is considerably high for a low-cost airline. In other words it means that the company is financed half from borrowing and half from own capital. The lower the gearing ratio of the airline the greater the firm’s capacity to borrow more money at a lower interest rate, due to the lower risk to banks and lenders. Oppositely, BA has an even higher gearing ratio of 65.5%. Around one third of British Airways’ capital is funded by the shareholders, while the remaining is sourced from long-term loans and debts.The following table summarises the previously outlined performance and liquidity ratios of the airlines. BA(£) Airline Ryanair(€) 9,987 Total revenue 4,390.2m 672m Profit after tax 560.4m 0,7531 Current Ratio 2,135 63,80% Gearing Ratio 53,98% 570m Cash Reserve 2708m 26.2% ROE 16.9% 5.2% Operating Margin 14%Replacing the aircrafts is not only increases the airline’s prestige but can mean a significant reduction in operating costs as the new generation of aircrafts are much more fuel efficient or can carry more passengers than the predecessors. As the core of the LCC business model Ryanair only flies Boeing 737-800s thus reducing the maintenance costs significantly. The carrier has one live contract from 2005 with the American aircraft manufacturer that covers the procurement of 197 brand new 737800s for which the unit cost is $51m. (Ryanair 2012)  Ryanair’s long-term debt for aircraft commitments, including current maturities was €3,625.2m at March 31, 2012. The airline has funded a significant portion of its acquisition of new aircraft and equipment through borrowings under facilities provided by international financial institutions on the basis of guarantees issued by Ex-Im Bank.At the end of fiscal year 2012 the carrier had a fleet of 294 Boeing aircraft of which 199 were funded by Ex-Im Bank guaranteed financing. Other sources to cover aircraft costs are Japanese Operating Leases with call options (30 aircrafts) and commercial debt financing (6 aircrafts). According to the bookings, 235 aircraft are owned by Ryanair, which are financed through long-term bank loans. Operational leases funded 59 aircrafts at March 31, which means that Ryanair operate these aircrafts, but does not own them.The aircrafts are leased to provide flexibility within the aircraft delivery programme. 55 aircrafts is being financed through fix-rate debts, while for the remaining 4 aircraft Ryanair is paying variable rental payments. Out of the 25 aircraft, which has been delivered in the 2012 financial year, 11 were funded through sale-and-leaseback financing and the remainder through Ex-Im Bank guaranteed financing. To convert a portion of the floating-rate debts into the fixed rate debts, Ryanair has used interest rate swaps and cross currency rate swaps. As a result €1,314.7m of the aircraft loans are remained at floating rates. The remaining €2,310.5m is in fixed-rate euro-denominated debts with the maturities of 7 to 12 years. On all of the above mentioned borrowings the weighted average interest rate was 2.9%.The effective rate is the rough estimate for the weighted average cost of capital. It is calculated by dividing the interest paid for the year with the long term borrowings. For Ryanair it is 3.01%, which is really close to their given figures. Accordingly their cost of long term borrowings is 109.2m, which can be considered as low. The low rate also represents trust from the lenders and investors. But, on the other hand it must be noted that at March 31, 2012 aircrafts with a net book value of €4.8bn were mortgaged to lenders as security for loans. This may be the explanation for the low interest rates. In general, Ryanair has been able to generate sufficient funds from operations to meet its nonaircraft acquisition-related working capital requirements.Between 2008 and 2012 March Ryanair had sold and re-delivered a total of 39 aircrafts and also the company plans to dispose 8 additional before March 2014. Ryanair may choose to dispose of aircraft through sale and or non-renewal of the operating leases as they expiree between 2012 and 2013. In the next year the company has a total obligations of €1,143.3m out of which the third, around €571.8m is “purchase obligations”, i.e. buying the remaining 15 aircrafts. Each of the aircraft loans have similar terms – maturity of 12 years from drawdown date and being secured by a first priority mortgage. The overall aircraft debts (€3,625.2m) represent around 80% of all long-term liabilities, hence if the airline is capable of paying these commitments Ryanair should be able to preserve its current financial status in the upcoming years.As it can be seen the low cost carrier Ryanair has built up a well-functioning system to finance all its aircrafts, including the 15 Boeing 737s that will be delivered in the future. Furthermore by currency swapping and low interest rates the company is in total control of its costs.The transparency of BA’s financial situation is significantly lower comparing it to Ryanair’s. This can be explained in two ways, either they prefer not to reveal their financial strategy and sources as it can provide valuable information for the competitors or the company does not have the adequate financial background to finance its long term commitments. British Airways has a completely different fleet to cover both its short- and long-haul routes. The fleet is owned by the company or held in finance and operational leases. The 245 aircrafts take up two thirds (£5.7bn) of the company’s total non-current assets. Also, 95% of the overall revenue is generated through the fleet.The aircrafts comprise different sized jets from various manufacturers making the operational and maintenance costs higher. In the annual report of year ended in December 31, 2011 BA outlined its current fleet and future aircraft deliveries and options. These include 50 firm orders and 84 options. The new fleet is made up from A320s, A380s, Boeing 777-300s and 787s, which are expected to enter service between 2012 and 2017. Furthermore, in Note 13 the airline states that the cost of these aircrafts is going to be £4.1bn. But, no other information is provided about the sources that will cover these expenditures, thus it can be assumed that the future cash flows contain relevant information on these funds, but they have not been published yet. (British Airways 2012)The non-current liabilities of loans, finance- and operational leases add up to £4.904, which is 30% more than Ryanair’s €3.8bn total long-term commitments. According to BA the bank and other loans at the end of 2011 equalled £1,324m, comprised of fixed- and floating rate loans. £693m is in floating-rate debts, while the remaining £823m is in fixed rate loans and bonds. The average interest rate for the fixed rate debts is around 6.5%, which is significantly higher than Ryanair’s 2.9%. The floating rate loans are generally determined to be 0,5%+LIBOR. The lenders consider the airline as a higher risk firm that is why the interest rates are higher. Generally, the loans are repayable between 2014 and 2018, with one exception none of the loans need to be repaid until 2014 and on. Such conditions allow BA to use the debt to generate cash in the next 2-4 years.BA uses finance leases and hire contracts to acquire aircraft. These leases have both renewal options and purchase options. The total finance lease contracts worth £2.227bn and similarly like Ryanair, it consist of different currencies namely US dollar, Euro, Japanese yen and Sterling. The non-current side of these contracts are £1.12b, but around half of this is due obligatory in five or more years. Four of the new 777-300s are being leased through GE Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS). The finance lease agreements are mainly in place to fund the existing fleet. Therefore additional leases are required, if the new fleet is wished to be funded through such construction.The operating leases for BA’s aircraft range from five years and some leases contain options for renewal. However, this type of contract accounts for only £316m of which is £253 is not payable within one year. Comparing to 2010 BA has halved its operational leases from £635m, it can be assumed that company took the lease contract for an aircraft or more, which was expected to be delivered in 2011, but it has been delayed so the company terminated the contractual agreement until the new aircrafts are delivered. Accordingly, it can be assumed that operational lease commitments are going to rise in the next two financial years.Performance and earningUnlike Ryanair, British Airways does not provide any kind of information about the structure of the leases. The following assumption can be made though; BA offered worse interest terms with the loan contracts than Ryanair because of its weaker liquidity and performance. British Airway’s effective rate shows the same trend as its 4.301%. The company paid £161m in 2011 as cost for long term borrowings.