Despite weak industry fundamentals,
announced a big uptick in second-quarter profits on Thursday.
The New York-based low-cost carrier said that second-quarter net income was $37.9 million, or 55 cents a share, which includes $22.8 million in government compensation from the Emergency War Time Supplemental Appropriations Act. The earnings were more than double last year's quarter, which came in at $17.9 million, or 22 cents a share.
Excluding the government aid, the company said it made $26.4 million, or 38 cents a share, better than the 28 cents a share expected by Wall Street. In early trading, shares were up 99 cents, or 2.2%, at $45.13.
"This was a great quarter for JetBlue," said David Neeleman, CEO, in a release. "We continued to demonstrate excellent cost control and solid operational performance in the face of strong growth."
Revenue growth was very strong, coming in at $244.7 million, up 63.9% from the year-ago $149.3 million, and better than the $237 million expected by Wall Street. The big increase was due, in part, to JetBlue's ambitious expansion over the last year. Traffic, as measured by revenue passenger miles, was up 71.9% over last year, while capacity, measured by available seat miles, was up 69.5% over last year.
JetBlue's expansion will pick up steam in the next few years. At the end of the second quarter, the carrier said there were 45 Airbus A320s in its fleet, with plans to bring eight more planes onboard by the end of 2003. But the carrier just placed an order for 100 Embraer 190 planes, with an option for 100 more, with the first of those set to arrive in mid-2005.
But while JetBlue logged more miles in the second quarter, its planes stayed full. The company said its load factor, or percentage of seats filled on each flight, came in at 85.3%, up 120 basis points from a year ago, and one of the highest load factors in the entire industry.
In a sign that low prices are still being used to spur demand, JetBlue may have flown more passengers in the second quarter, but it made less money off each. Revenue yield per passenger, which measures average fare levels, was off 4.5% when compared with last year. Similarly, revenue per available seat mile, or RASM, came in at 7.47 cents, down 3.3% year over year.