Tui's sunny outlook puts Thomas Cook shares in the shade

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The Independent Online

The City dumped shares in Thomas Cook in favour of rival Tui Travel yesterday as the Thomson Holidays owner issued a profits upgrade despite unrest in Egypt.

Cook's recent run higher from near-oblivion in late 2011 came to an abrupt halt as shares sank nearly 7 per cent, down 10.3p to 145.3p.

The company, where chief executive Harriet Green is a year into a turnaround of the business, says its own profits will meet market hopes, but warned of a slow start to the winter booking season.

In contrast, Tui Travel is now looking for operating profit growth of at least 11 per cent this year ahead of its previous 7 per cent to 10 per cent target range, sending the shares up 14p to 370.4p or nearly 4 per cent.

Cook said the warmer weather in Europe and "geopolitical events" including last month's Egyptian coup were behind its slower start to the winter bookings, although holidaymakers are paying out more for their breaks with average selling prices up strongly in all markets.

Tui Travel said firmer summer trading in the UK and Nordic regions was behind its profits upgrade, although it is drastically cutting back on holidays to Egypt following the unrest there. The chief executive Peter Long said the company began to switch its Egyptian holidays into alternative destinations as soon as the trouble started. The company, which is 31 per cent booked for the winter, has trimmed its overall capacity slightly as a result.

Analysts noted the upgrade from Tui but said there may still be value in Thomas Cook despite yesterday's blip. Panmure Gordon's Karl Burns said: "We believe there remains more upside potential at Thomas Cook whilst trading on a lower rating."