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Air Canada CEO challenges ‘short-term investors’ to sell shares; stock drops

Air Canada (AC.TO) chief executive officer Calin Rovinescu challenged “short-term investors” to sell the airline’s shares Wednesday and it appears they took him at his word.

Shares in the company fell 10 per cent in mid-day trading even though Air Canada announced adjusted financial results in 2015 that represented a record.

But Mr. Rovinescu had strong words when asked by analysts on a conference call about the airline’s decision to stop issuing monthly traffic figures and whether it considered offering more disclosure every month instead of less.

“To be very blunt, we’re not running this company for the benefit of short-term investors from a day-to-day basis or from a month-to-month basis,” said Mr. Rovinescu.

“We’ll see what the stock price does. If short-term investors don’t like this, I can encourage them to leave. We’re running this company for the benefit of our-long term stakeholders.”

Air Canada’s share price fell 83 cents to $7.58 in morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The airline reported annual adjusted net income of $1.22-billion or $4.18 a share in the year ended Dec. 31, up from $531-million or $1.81 a year earlier.

Those are the best financial results in the airline’s history, Mr. Rovinescu said.

But investors also appeared to focus on fourth-quarter results, which showed a final loss of $116-million, deeper than the $100-million final loss in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Instead of monthly traffic statistics, Air Canada will provide them quarterly and indicate how they stack up against Air Canada’s long-term targets and financial plan.

“That means we’re going to be providing information that we consider relevant to how we manage the company, not in terms of what somebody would like to see on a day-to-day basis or a month-to-month basis,” Mr. Rovinescu said.

“If we attract greater long-term investors, that should result in less [share price] volatility, not more volatility and we’ll have the analysts starting to think about this in the way many pension funds [do.]” CTV Two CTV News CTV News Channel BNN - Business News Network CP24