Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Report on Business

Streetwise

News and analysis on Bay Street and the world of finance
available exclusively to subscribers of Globe Unlimited

Entry archive:

A branch of travel agents Thomas Cook is pictured in central London, on December 02, 2008. (Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images/Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images)
A branch of travel agents Thomas Cook is pictured in central London, on December 02, 2008. (Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images/Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images)

Streetwise

Thomas Cook's 75% plunge worrisome for travel firms Add to ...

Shares of Thomas Cook plunged 75 per cent in London on Tuesday and the company’s bonds traded at about half their value after the world’s second-largest travel operator announced a new round of talks with its lenders.

That the company has to negotiate its debt payments is one thing, but this is the second round of talks in just a few weeks. Since the first negotiation, “some areas of the business” have gotten worse, and its cash position has deteriorated since Sept. 30, the company said.

More related to this story

Such a rapid decline is startling, but the underlying problems make sense. Thomas Cook is based in Britain, and its core customers are families with young children. That demographic group is hurting right now. Moreover, the tour operator travelled to Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, which aren’t exactly calm at the moment

But the big question is whether Thomas Cook is an isolated case, or could this be an industry downturn that will wreak havoc for firms like Canada’s Transat A.T. Inc. ?

Benoit Poirier at Desjardins Securities isn’t too worried about Transat right now. The company generates only about one-tenth of its revenue from the U.K. market, and troubled Thomas Cook owns 100 per cent of Sunquest vacations, a Canadian tour operator with sun destinations. If Thomas Cook gets into trouble, it could open up some market share here.

Plus, Mr. Poirier points out that Transat had $308-million in cash on its balance sheet at quarter end.

Still, its not as though Transat is a shining success story. Year-to-date, the company’s shares are down a shocking 65 per cent. That prompted management to review the entire business and convinced it to do things like cut 143 jobs, which was announced last month. An full operational review is expected on Dec. 15.

Follow on Twitter: @timkiladze

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories