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Turkish Airlines has announced its December 2012 traffic results. The company's full year traffic results are broadly in line with our estimates and do not incorporate any major surprises.
The y/y improvement in the company's load factor continues to be strong. However, while we expect the improvement to prevail in the coming months, we expect it to slow down as a result of: (i) gradually surfacing high base effect and (ii) expected higher capacity introduction in 2013.
The company carried 3.1mn passengers in December and 39.0mn in 2012 as w hole, which both imply 20% y/y growth. At the beginning of 2012, the company was guiding for 38.2mn passengers, thus it exceeded its targets. Transfer passengers were the main driver of total growth as intl-to-intl transfer passenger traffic was up 44% y/y in 2012, while high margin business passengers for international routes grew by 34% in the same period.
In terms of regional performance, Turkish Airlines registered the largest y/y growth in passenger traffic in South America thanks to the launch of Buenos Aires flights and the low base effect. On the other hand, the 28% higher than consolidated average growth recorded in Europe, the company's main market, in 2012 was also worth mentioning. The most important aspect of the regional figures is that all the sub-regions, both on a monthly basis and a y-t-d basis, recorded positive growth, which is a clear sign of Turkish Airlines' success in the execution of its hub & spoke model.
As we left 2012 behind, we are now looking forward to Turkish Airlines operational figures in 2013. Management foresees 15% y/y growth in the number of passengers in 2013, while their capacity and growth expectations translate into a 110bps improvement in the load factor. Although our passenger number expectation is broadly in line with the estimate, due mainly to our conservative stance, we anticipate a lower load factor recording from the company.
In light of the announced results and management's 2013 guidance, we will examine our model assumptions and our current 12M target price of TRY 6.35. An upward revision to our target price is likely.
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