American Airlines Misses Q4 Profit Forecast, Sees June Return for 737 MAX

American Airlines said it doesn't expect the 24 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet to return to service until at least June 2, adding pressure to its shares after a moderately weaker-than-expected fourth quarter earnings report.

American Airlines Group  (AAL) - Get Report posted modestly weaker-than-expected fourth quarter earnings Thursday and said it will keep all Boeing  (BA) - Get Report 737 MAX aircraft out of its fleet until at least June of this year.

American said non-GAAP earnings for the three months ending in December came in at $1.15 per share, up 18.55% from the same period last year but 2 cents shy of the Street consensus forecast. Group revenues, the carrier said, were essentially flat to last year at $11.3 billion and largely in-line with analysts' estimates.

Looking into the 2020 financial year, American said it sees earnings in the region of $4 to $5 per share, compared to a Refinitiv forecast of $5.10 per share. American also said it doesn't expect the 24 737 MAXs in its fleet, which have been grounded by the FAA since last spring, to return to service until at least June 3. The MAX grounding, American said, caused it to cancel 10,000 flights over the fourth quarter. 

"While our results for the quarter reflect this progress, we know there is more work to be done. Looking to 2020, we are focused on three key areas," said CEO Doug Parker. "First, we will continue to deliver operational excellence and build on our strong fourth-quarter results. Our team has done a tremendous job, and we will keep driving improvement in key operational metrics in the year ahead." 

"Second, we will deliver those results while growing where we have a competitive advantage in our most profitable hubs," he added. "And third, these initiatives combined with our capital plan will enable us to drive significant free cash flow in 2020 and beyond." 

American Airlines shares were marked 3% lower in early Thursday trading  following the earnings release to change hands at $26.58 each.