Delta Air Lines Inc.’s first-quarter profit beat analysts’ estimates as savings from low fuel costs overcame softer demand from the Brussels terror attack and weak foreign currencies.
Earnings excluding some items rose to $1.32 a share, exceeding the $1.30 average of 14 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales were $9.25 billion, Delta said in a statement Thursday. Analysts had predicted $9.27 billion.
The least-expensive fuel in more than a decade has helped carriers post record profits while letting them put more money into sprucing up jet interiors and airport luxury lounges. Operating income for the U.S. airline industry rose $959 million in the first quarter because of the lower fuel bill, Deutsche Bank analyst Michael Linenberg estimated in an April 7 note.
Delta paid an average of $1.33 a gallon for fuel in the first quarter, compared with $2.93 a gallon a year earlier.
Delta forecast that second-quarter unit revenue would fall by 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent from a year earlier. That key measurement, of passenger revenue for each seat flown a mile, has declined for the past year because of weak overseas fares and aggressive competition in the U.S. Investors have been waiting to see improvement before buying airline shares.
Delta’s stock was down 5.2 percent this year through Wednesday, compared with a 1.2 percent drop for the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index. Several analysts this week predicted that unit revenue would improve this quarter through the end of the year as the effects of weak foreign currencies and last year’s aggressive fare discounting in the U.S. taper off.
The shares rose less than 1 percent to $48.50 at 7:19 a.m. in New York premarket trading.
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This article was written by Michael Sasso from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.