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Michael O'Leary's piece of Ryanair was worth half a BILLION today as shares hit a new high

It’s a good time to be the boss.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary poses as St Nicolas in Belgium last month Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary poses as St Nicholas in Belgium last month Source: ERIC LALMAND/Belga/Press Association Images

RYANAIR’S SHARE PRICE hit a new high today as the budget airline announced it had boosted its passenger figures 20% in December.

And the lift in the Swords-based carrier’s market value was enough to raise chief executive Michael O’Leary’s stake in the company to over €500 million.

Ryanair this morning released its latest update, which said customers hit 6.02 million last month – up from 5.02 million for the same time a year earlier.

The growth came from the airline increasing its capacity by over 10% on December 2013, as well as successfully packing more people into its planes.

Its load factor, the share of punters to available seats, hit 88% last month – compared to 81% the previous year.

Meanwhile, its rolling annual traffic was up 6% to 86.4 million passengers.

Early last month the company’s share value topped €13 billion for the first time as it forecast profits would hit up to €830 million for 2014-15.

That figure was based on total passengers numbers of 90 million for the 12 months to March 2015, although it admitted the end-of-year total would depend heavily on what happened in January through March.

Value through the roof

But today’s announcement sent the airline’s share price shooting even higher and put its total value above €14 billion for the first time.

The price rise meant O’Leary’s piece of the airline – some 3.7% – was worth above €500 million alone.

Ryanair1 Source: Yahoo! Finance UK & Ireland

In a briefing note, Goodbody’s Mark Simpson said the latest figures were another “very strong performance” and he expected Ryanair to turn a profit for the last 3 months of the year, compared to a loss of €62 million for the same period in 2014.

Goodbody has set a price target of €11.50 for the airline’s shares, which were trading nearly 15% below that value this morning.

Ryanair recently set up a dedicated US website in a push for North American customers, although O’Leary previously said it was at least 4 years away from offering transatlantic flights.

Originally published at 10.31am

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin

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