February 6, 2020 / 12:52 PM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 1-Autogrill confirms 2019 earnings forecasts as sales hit $5.5 bln

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MILAN, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Italian transport restaurant group Autogrill confirmed its 2019 earnings forecast on Thursday after reporting preliminary sales of 5 billion euros ($5.5 billion) last year.

Autogrill, which runs restaurants and cafes in some of the world's busiest airports, said sales rose 6.4% at current exchange rates and were up 3.1% on a like-for-like basis.

Like-for-like revenue growth was driven by airports, while the performance of restaurants and outlets in motorways and railway stations was positive, but less buoyant.

The depreciation of the euro against the dollar had a positive impact on sales of 133 million euros.

Autogrill, which is controlled by the Benetton family, one of Italy's most prominent business dynasties, said it expected 2019 underlying core earnings of between 458 million and 463 million euros.

In June, the company had indicated a range of 450-470 million euros for its 2019 underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).

It also said its reported earnings per share (EPS) would be between 0.91 and 0.92 euros, in line with a 0.88-0.93 euros forecast in June.

Analysts see limited impact on the company from the coronavirus outbreak since the portion of traffic to and from China for airports where Autogrill is present is small. The company did not mention the virus in its statement. ($1 = 0.9092 euros) (Reporting by Francesca Landini; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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