Delta, US Airways shares up on profit reports

In this Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, photo US Airways jets are seen at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
In this Monday, Feb. 25, 2013, photo US Airways jets are seen at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (Gene J. Puskar)
Posted: April 25, 2013

Shares of Delta Air Lines and US Airways Group were higher Tuesday after both carriers reported profitable first quarters that beat analysts' estimates.

Delta said it was the best first quarter in more than a decade, with earnings, excluding special items, at $85 million, or 10 cents a share. Analysts had estimated six cents.

US Airways reported a profit of $55 million, or 31 cents a share, excluding special items. That beat analysts' average estimate of 28 cents and compared to a first-quarter 2012 net loss, excluding one-time charges, of $22 million, or 13 cents per share.

Delta shares closed up $1.58 Tuesday, or 10.44 percent, at $16.72; US Airways stock closed up 78 cents, or 5.3 percent, at $16.30.

"We are extremely pleased to produce these record first-quarter results," US Airways chief executive Doug Parker said.

On Feb. 14, US Airways agreed to merge with American Airlines in an $11 billion all-stock deal. Parker said Tuesday that integration planning "is going well" and that the merger was expected to close in the third quarter, creating the world's biggest airline.

Delta said fuel expenses declined $78 million in the quarter on lower fuel prices and fuel consumption compared with the period last year. But that wasn't due to the airline's new Trainer oil refinery, which lost $22 million and "was slightly below our expectations," said Paul Jacobson, Delta chief financial officer.

Operations at the Delaware County refinery "have since recovered from the impact of unexpected supply disruptions" from Hurricane Sandy "and an outage in a gasoline-production unit that slowed output during the quarter. We have since stabilized operations," Jacobson said, "and expect a modest June quarter profit for Trainer."

Delta president Edward Bastian, on a conference call, reiterated that the company was pleased with the refinery purchase and said it expected a second-quarter profit at the plant. But, citing oil-market volatility, Bastian declined to project a full-year profit for the former ConocoPhillips refinery.

US Airways said strong demand and record passenger loads led to "record revenue performance."

Revenue in the first quarter was $3.3 billion, up 3.5 percent vs. the first quarter a year ago. Operating expenses in the quarter were $3.3 billion, up 2.2 percent over the period last year. As of March 31, US Airways had $2.9 billion in cash and investments, up from $2.7 billion Dec. 31.

"We saw a decline in business demand leading up to the federal sequester," US Airways president Scott Kirby said. Revenue from government-related travel was down 37 percent in March. Leisure bookings look good, he said, and "business demand is poised to recover" once the sequester ends.


Contact Linda Loyd

at 215-854-2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

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