Continental and Southwest post 1Q profits
Continental Airlines achieved its first quarter profit for the first time in six years, attributing the effort to strong revenue growth, continued cost discipline and a slight decrease in fuel prices. (4/20/2007)
Continental Airlines reported first quarter 2007 net income, including special items, of $22 million ($0.21 diluted earnings per share). First quarter net income includes a $7 million gain on the sale of substantially all of the company´s remaining investment in ExpressJet Holdings and a net charge from other special items of $11 million. Excluding special items, Continental recorded net income of $26 million ($0.25 diluted earnings per share), an improvement of $72 million compared to the same period last year.
Passenger revenue of $2.9 billion increased 7.9 percent ($212 million) compared to first quarter 2006, led by strong international revenue growth.
Jeff Smisek, Continental’s President said, “While the domestic system suffers from yield pressure, the international system is performing superbly, and rewards us for our decade-long focus on international expansion.”
Southwest Airlines shared that its first-quarter net income rose 52 percent because of benefits from a jet-fuel hedging programme.
Net income increased to $93 million, or 12 cents a share, from $61 million, or seven cents, a year earlier, the Dallas-based airline said.
Excluding a gain of $60 million related to hedging, profit fell to $33 million because of slowing revenue growth and matched analysts´ estimates.
“The momentum is not where it was in the fourth quarter, although the revenue environment is still healthy,” Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly said.
Growth in demand doesn’t “appear to be improving” this quarter, he told analysts and investors later.
Southwest Airlines announced a three-year transformation plan to deal with the “permanent” increase in fuel prices. According to a media report, the airline, which insisted that it was not interested in a leveraged buy-out, is losing the edge it had over rivals as fuel hedging contracts start to unwind.
Kelly reportedly said a business operating almost 500 aircraft and carrying 21m passengers last year had “hidden assets” which would allow it to boost average revenues. These include carrying more cargo, looking at the potential of international flights and alliances with other carriers, and providing in-flight internet services.