Southwest Beats, Says Gains To Continue

Southwest said it sees 'no signs that the momentum will stall.'
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reported record revenue and unit revenue in the second quarter and said the strong growth trends are continuing.

Excluding items, the carrier reported net income of $216 million, or 29 cents a share. Analysts had estimated 27 cents. A year earlier, excluding items, net income was $59 million, or 8 cents a share.

Including items related to fuel hedging, net income was $112 million, or 15 cents, up slightly from a year earlier when Southwest had net income of $91 million, or 12 cents.

Revenue rose 21% to $3.2 billion, in line with estimates. Revenue per available seat mile rose 21.5%. Both figures represented quarterly records for Southwest, while earnings excluding special items represented the second-best quarter in the carrier's history, behind the second quarter of 2006. Meanwhile, the pretax margin excluding special items was 11%.

"We have made excellent progress toward generating revenue levels sufficient to reach our 15% pretax return on invested capital target," said CEO Gary Kelly, in a prepared statement. "Although business demand has not fully recovered, it has strengthened, and consumer travel demand is robust."

Looking ahead, Kelly said the carrier is on track to report an all-time record load factor in July. "We have built considerable, industry-leading revenue momentum that began in second half 2009 (and) we see no signs that the momentum will stall in second half 2010."

On the cost side, cost per available seat mile excluding special items increased 13.6%, due primarily to a 32.4% increase in fuel cost. Southwest is 55% hedged for the current quarter and 40% hedged for the fourth quarter. The market value of Southwest hedges through 2014 is about $227 million. Excluding fuel, CASM increased 6.4% to 7.35 cents.

Regarding capacity, Southwest said current year capacity will be flat. No fleet growth is planned for 2011 and 2012, but utilization will likely increase modestly in 2011.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.


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