EasyJet has been hit by a downgrade from Bank of America Merrill Lynch that shifted its stock rating from “neutral” to “underperforming”. The change is reported to have knocked £130m ($223m) off the value of founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou’s stake. The bank cited a lack of earnings growth amid an increasingly crowded LCC marketplace as the reason for its reclassification. EasyJet shares have risen dramatically since being admitted to the London Stock Exchange in November 2000 (the airline debuted on the FTSE 100 in March 2013). Earlier this year, the carrier announced a pre-tax loss of £53m ($89m) for the six months to March 31, a 13 per cent improvement on the previous period and lower than its own projection of a £55m–£65m loss. Sources within EasyJet said a greater focus on business travellers combined with tighter cost controls were behind the better than expected performance.