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Go-Ahead shares jump 18 percent as bus operations lift profit

FILE PHOTO: A Go Ahead bus crosses Westminster Bridge in London, Britain August 29, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall

(Reuters) - Shares of Go-Ahead Group (GOG.L) rose nearly 18 percent on Thursday after the largest operator of bus services in London posted a 6.5 percent rise in full-year pre-tax profit and said its results were ahead of its expectations.

Pre-tax profit rose to 145.7 million pounds for the year ended June 30, from 136.8 million pounds a year earlier, the company said, as higher profit from its bus operations offset a fall in rail profit. It also maintained its full-year dividend of 102.08 pence per share.

"Our bus operations performed resiliently with profits slightly up on last year despite a challenging market environment," Chief Executive Officer David Brown said.

Investec analysts raised their 2019 pre-tax profit forecast on Go-Ahead, which operates the Southeastern and GTR rail franchises which connect London to its suburbs.

"We are encouraged by the resilience of the bus division, the improvement in GTR reliability since the July timetable change, further international contract wins in Dublin and Germany and the successful launch of (on-demand bus service) PickMeUp," they said in a note.

(Reporting by Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)