Delta Air Lines, Inc. (DAL) Beats Expectations

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Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) released its fourth quarter earnings this morning, posting strong results after lower fuel costs during the quarter. The company reported earnings of 65 cents a share, excluding items. That’s compared to 28 cents per share in earnings in the same quarter a year ago. Revenue rose from $8.6 billion last year to $9.08 billion this year.

Analysts had been expecting the airline to report earnings of 63 cents per share on revenue of $9.03 billion. Shares rose more than 3% in premarket trading after the results were released.

Examining Delta Air Lines’ results

According to this morning’s report from Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL), the company saw an $8 billion benefit from the reversal of a tax-valuation allowance. Because of that benefit, the airline’s actual profits were $8.48 billion or $9.89 per share. Other items reported during the December quarter were charges related to restructuring.

The airline reported small increases in operating costs because of higher volume and expenses related to revenue. However, lower expenses for fuel and also cost-cutting plans partially offset that increase.

Breaking down the results

Delta reported a 6.1% increase in passenger unit revenue and a 2% increase in traffic. Its capacity increased 2.9% during the quarter, and its load factor, which is the percentage of seats it was able to fill, dropped from 83.3% to 82.6%. Passenger revenue rose 6.1% or $451 million year over year. Passenger unit revenue rose 3%, and the airline also reported a 4% yield improvement.

Cargo revenue fell 1% or $3 million because of declining freight yields, which were partially offset by higher volumes. Other revenue rose 2.8% or $36 million as the airline reported higher revenue from its SkyMiles program.

During the current quarter, Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) said it plans to increase its capacity by between 2% and 3%. The company also said they’re preparing to implement their joint venture with Virgin Atlantic as they continue to restructure and also diversify their Pacific network. They’re also trying to increase their corporate share and ramp up their merchandising efforts.

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