Ryanair has tempered its long-term expectations as it is forced to keep running without the Boeing planes it was hoping would be delivered more than six months ago.

The budget carrier said its target to carry 200 million passengers a year would have to wait for a year or two until 2025 or 2026.

It comes as Boeing is battling to ensure its 737 Max planes are able to take to the skies again. The aircraft were grounded after hundreds of people were killed in two crashes.

"It is now likely that our first Max aircraft will not deliver until September or October 2020," Ryanair said in a statement to the Stock Exchange on Monday.

READ MORE: Blue Lagoon brothers serve up new-look flagship shop

It said the late delivery of the "gamechanger" planes, which carry more passengers and burn less fuel, will transform the business over the next decade, but that, "due to these delivery delays, we won't see any of these cost savings until late in the 2021 financial year".

However, there was better news elsewhere as the company cited a strong Christmas and New Year for a 6% rise in customer numbers to 36 million in the three months to the end of December.

It was also able to rake in higher fares during the period, helping to swing the airline from a €66 million (£56 million) loss to an €88 million (£74 million) profit. Revenue per passenger rose 13%.

Overall revenue jumped 21% to €1.91 billion (£1.61 billion) in the three months.

Fuel costs rose by 14% to €700 million (£590 million) because the airline paid more per unit and used more fuel.

It said that annual profit after tax was likely to fall in the middle of the already upgraded €950 million to €1.05 billion (£800 million to £884 million) target range.

Bookings for the fourth quarter are 1% ahead of the same period last year and are gathering slightly better fares.

Full-year passenger growth is expected at 8%, to 154 million.

Tobacco giant Imperial Brands has appointed a new chief executive after Alison Cooper said she would step down from the role.

Stefan Bomhard faces a battle to re-position the company amid a sector-wide move towards vaping products.

READ MORE: Aberdeen TexMex food entrepreneur has eyes on new markets

Mr Bomhard comes from Inchcape, a global luxury car dealership, which he has headed since 2015.

It marks a major step up in responsibility for the marketing PhD.

London-listed Inchcape has a market value of £2.6 billion, compared with Imperial's £18.4 billion.

It also comes with a pay rise for Mr Bomhard, who made a £739,000 base salary at Inchcape.

His new wage packet will be almost £1.3 million, with a potential bonus of up to 200% of his salary, plus incentive pay.

Imperial chairwoman Therese Esperdy said: "Stefan has significant experience across multiple consumer sectors and within large multinational organisations, particularly in brand building and consumer-led sales and marketing.

"He has demonstrated strong strategic and operational leadership and has developed a track record of delivering successful transformational change during his tenure at Inchcape."

Transforming a business could be a vital skill at Imperial, which is at a "significant point" in development, in Ms Esperdy's words.

Sales of the firm's next generation products, including vape pen blu, in the American market fell by more than a quarter to £111 million.

Profits at UK-listed companies fell for the second quarter in a row in the final three months of 2019, according to a new report.

Revenues also sank during the period for the first time in three years, with low oil prices helping to intensify the earnings recession for listed businesses, The Share Centre's Profit Watch research found.

READ MORE: Jeremy Peat: 'The continuation of uncertainty regarding the UK outlook is shown by currency volatility'

Profits dropped 10.4% on average during the three-month period - making it the third consecutive quarter to see more than half of listed companies reporting lower profits.

The proportion of companies growing their bottom line has declined from a peak of 70% in 2017 and is now the lowest since the last economic recession a decade ago, at 49%, the report added.

When the 40 largest companies in the UK are excluded, the number is even worse, with profits falling every quarter for the last seven - the worst run since 2008 to 2009.

Richard Stone, chief executive of The Share Centre, said: "There's no doubt that the latest batch of UK results is disappointing, hit by both global and domestic factors.

"This, along with the uncertainty caused by the UK's protracted internal wrangling over Brexit, helps explain why the UK stock market lagged so far behind its peers in 2019.

"Market expectations for earnings this year are likely still too high.

"We are more optimistic now on the global economy, given the easing of trade tensions, but the latest news on the UK economy is rather poor.

"A decisive election result is certainly a major positive as it breaks the confidence-sapping political deadlock, but the Brexit cliff-edge has merely been postponed, and as such will continue to weigh on sentiment in the months ahead."