American Airlines (AAL.O) reported better-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday and forecast 2019 earnings above Wall Street estimates as the No.1 U.S. airline benefits from higher fares and healthy passenger demand, sending its shares up nearly 6 percent, Trend reports referring to Reuters.
Smaller rivals Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) and United Airlines (UAL.O) had kicked off fourth-quarter earnings earlier this month with profits that also beat analysts’ expectations.
No. 2 U.S. carrier Delta, however, warned of a fall in unit revenue growth in the current quarter due to lost government business and of difficulties in introducing new aircraft because of the U.S. government shutdown that has dragged into its 34th day.
American said unit revenue, a closely watched performance metric which compares sales to flight capacity, would be flat to up 2 percent in the current quarter.
A fall in unit revenue growth to less than 2 percent in the fourth quarter had sent American’s shares spinning lower when it flagged the number earlier this month.
Thursday’s numbers showed fuel expenses rose almost 20 percent in the quarter.
The company forecast full-year earnings per share to rise between 21 percent and 65 percent, well above the 30 percent increase expected by analysts on average, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
The No. 1 U.S. airline by passenger traffic said net income, excluding special items, rose 8.3 percent to $481 million, or $1.04 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, beating analysts’ estimate of $1.01 per share.
Total operating revenue rose 3.1 percent to $10.94 billion.