Over-50s services group Saga (SAGA) saw travel bookings for 2022 and 2023 beat pre-pandemic levels, but the shares dipped 0.6% to 349p as the company also warned on lingering Covid uncertainty.

The company swung to a modest first-half profit thanks to gains on a property disposal, but it recorded underlying losses as the pandemic continues to weigh on its cruise business.

Pre-tax earnings for the six months through July amounted to £0.7 million compared to losses of £55.5 million in the same period last year.

However, underlying losses amounted to £2.8 million, swinging from a prior-year underlying profit of £15.9 million.

Revenue slumped 19% to £156.4 million and the company didn't declare a full-year dividend.

PERFORMANCE IN LINE WITH EXPECTATIONS

Saga, which also has an insurance division, said it had performed in line with expectations against a backdrop of continuing Covid-19 challenges.

'Following the successful restart of operations in our travel business, we continue to work towards a full return to service, while remaining mindful of future potential volatility relating to Covid-19,' cheif executive Euan Sutherland said.

'As we have demonstrated through the last 18 months, we will continue to take an agile, proactive approach to navigate any challenges.'

Numis analyst Nick Johnson commented: ‘On first read we think consensus profit before tax for the current year might come down a bit with the slower tours restart offsetting the underwriting beat.

‘Future forecasts look well-supported, albeit there may be the need for added prudence in travel profits to reflect the risk that Covid disruptions persist. Overall, we think today’s results demonstrate Saga’s business is on a solid footing with a positive outlook.’

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Issue Date: 22 Sep 2021