May 8, 2018 / 6:56 AM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-Swiss duty-free retailer Dufry makes solid start to 2018

(Adds organic growth, analyst quote)

May 8 (Reuters) - The world’s largest duty-free store operator Dufry AG said on Tuesday positive market conditions and its cost-savings plan drove results higher in the seasonally-weak first quarter.

The Swiss company reported organic growth of 7.1 percent, lifted by robust performance in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Those markets surged 21 percent.

“The positive market conditions seen throughout 2017 have continued in the first months of 2018 in all divisions... providing a good base for the start into the high season,” Chief Executive Julian Diaz said.

Dufry said initial contributions from its cost-savings plan also helped earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) jump 18.4 percent to 183.1 million Swiss francs ($182.5 million).

Revenue rose 6.6 percent to 1.82 billion francs.

“Overall, we expect the market to take today’s results relatively well. The surprise came at the EBITDA level, which was 6 percent above market expectations,” Morgan Stanley analysts said.

Shares in the company are expected to rise more than 2 percent, according to premarket indications from traders.

$1 = 1.0033 Swiss francs Reporting by Bartosz Dabrowski and Thyagaraju Adinarayan; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Louise Heavens

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