Delta misses fourth quarter profit forecasts

Delta Air Lines (DAL) reported fourth-quarter results below analyst estimates Tuesday due to foreign currency headwinds, but the company sees another windfall from low oil prices, Investor’s Business Daily reported.

Delta, the third-largest USA airline by capacity, said its adjusted profit in the fourth quarter grew 43 percent to US$926 million, or US$1.18 per diluted share.

The results are an improvement compared with Delta’s $659 million in net income for 2014, which included a $712 million net loss for the fourth quarter of 2014. Ken Stern & Associates now owns 7,506 shares of the company’s stock worth $337,000 after buying an additional 1,038 shares during the last quarter.

Excluding what it termed one-time items, Delta said it would have earned $1.18 per share, a penny below the average forecast from analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research and FactSet.

Delta, the U.S. partner of Air France-KLM, expects the Paris attacks to hurt unit revenue in the first quarter by 0.5 percentage points, its President Ed Bastian said. In Q115, DAL had earned $0.45 per share on revenue of $9.39B compared with the analysts’ average estimate of $0.44 and $9.41B.

Passengers flew more miles but paid about 2 percent less per mile because of lower average fares.

The company anticipates passenger unit revenue to decline in the range of 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent in the current quarter. Management stated that the demand environment remains solid as the company continues to focus on areas of strength like the USA domestic market. Bastian said in a statement. “With over $3 billion in potential savings from lower fuel prices and numerous commercial, operational and cost initiatives already in place, we expect to again perform in the top tier of the S&P Industrials on earnings growth, margins, and cash flows this year despite global economic challenges”.

The decline is in line with analysts’ expectations, Sterne Agee CRT analyst Adam Hackel said. USA Today reports they credit lower fuel costs and other cost-saving methods for their fourth quarter success.

“Rigorous cost discipline is a key part of the Delta culture, which was proven by our ability to keep non-fuel unit costs flat in 2015 while significantly investing in our people, products and services”, said Paul Jacobson, Delta’s chief financial officer, in a press release.

Its shares rose $1.06, or 2.4 percent, to $45.56 in premarket trading Tuesday. Cowen and Company upped their price target on shares of Delta Air Lines from $55.00 to $62.00 and gave the stock an “outperform” rating in a research report on Friday, December 18th.

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