Ryanair released its annual results for year ending 2015 on Tuesday, 26th May. The results were exceptionally strong and beat both Ryanair management’s earnings guidance and the estimates of investment analysts.

Revenues grew by 12% to €5.64 billion with net income up 6% to €867 million and its net income margin improved to 15%, compared to 10% in 2014.

Ryanair’s strong operational performance was driven by its newly launched “Always Getting Better” customer focused strategy which has helped improve customer satisfaction levels; its low fares offering; its best “on-time” arrivals record in the industry and its renewed focus on primary airports. This has led to higher levels of repeat customers and improved efficiency.

Ryanair carried an additional 10.5 million passengers last year totaling 90.6 million, and aims to fly more than 100 million passengers this year, which would be a historic milestone. The airline’s operational efficiency also improved significantly and its Load Factor grew by 6% to 88% in the year. Management forecasts a further 2% improvement to 90% in the current year.

Ryanair has continued to take market share off its Low Cost Carrier (LCC) competitors such as EasyJet, Aer Lingus, Air France and Lufthansa as competitors struggle to compete with Ryanair on average fares (€47 vs. €156). Ryanair can sustain these lower fares because of its much lower cost per passenger (Ryanair €29, EasyJet €52 and Lufthansa €74 average cost per seat). Ryanair expects to capture strong market share gains in German and other key markets throughout Europe as traditional flag carriers cut capacity.

From a shareholder point of view, Ryanair returned €630 million through dividends and share repurchases during the year and in addition, the company grew its net cash position by €200 million to €364 million. This very strong net cash position coupled with its strong Free Cash Flow generation ability will likely lead to increased special dividends and share repurchases in the future. Analysts maintain a positive outlook for Ryanair given the airline’s strong growth outlook, high cash generative ability, strong management and potential for further shareholder returns.