March 10, 2011 / 1:04 PM / in 7 years

UPDATE 2-Transat sees weak Q2, shares plunge

* Q1 adj. after-tax loss C$0.51 vs loss of C$0.48, last year

* Q1 rev. up 2 pct to C$810.2 mln (Rewrites lead, adds analyst comment in paragraphs 3,4,7, adds share movement)

By Abhishek Takle

March 10 (Reuters) - Canadian holiday travel operator Transat AT Inc posted a wider first-quarter adjusted after-tax loss, and said second-quarter results would be similar to last year’s as rising competition puts pressure on selling prices, sending its shares down as much as 23 percent.

The company’s Class B shares were down C$3.62 at C$12.95 on Thursday morning, making it the second-biggest net loser on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Last year, the company posted an 85 percent drop in second-quarter earnings and posted a loss on an adjusted basis.

“The second quarter is their biggest quarter usually... and the guidance looks like it’s pretty weak,” Canaccord Genuity analyst David Tyerman told Reuters.

“Very very high competition on the North American sun destination routes is causing selling prices to be very weak,” he said.

For the first quarter, the Air Transat operator posted an adjusted after-tax loss of C$19.4 million, or 51 Canadian cents a share, wider than a loss of C$18.2 million, or 48 Canadian cents a share, last year.

On that basis, Tyerman was expecting a loss of 8 Canadian cents a share.

“It was a difficult quarter, mainly because of ongoing intense competition in the sun destinations market, which consumers are taking advantage of,” Chief Executive Jean-Marc Eustache said in a statement.

First-quarter revenue at the company, which competes with WestJet Airlines’ WestJet Vacations, Air Canada’s Air Canada Vacations and Sunwing Vacations, was up 2 percent at C$810.2 million. (Reporting by Abhishek Takle in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das, Sriraj Kalluvila)

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