Another Profit for JetBlue

Second-quarter revenue increased 34.5%.
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JetBlue Airways

(JBLU) - Get Report

posted a lower second-quarter profit as soaring fuel costs ate into its bottom line.

Still, the New York-based low-cost carrier met Wall Street's expectations and reported improving revenue trends as passengers swarmed its flights and average fares rose.

Net income fell 43% to $12.2 million, or 11 cents a share, from $21.4 million, or 19 cents a share, a year earlier. The EPS figure was in line with the average analyst estimate from Thomson First Call.

Revenue increased 34.5% to $430 million, from $319.7 million a year before. The analyst consensus was for a top line of $421 million.

JetBlue, which benefits from low costs and a young fleet, posted a profit for the 18th straight quarter.

"Once again, our crew members pulled through to deliver a solid performance in a tough quarter characterized by a 55% increase year over year in the cost of aircraft fuel," says David Neeleman, JetBlue's chairman and CEO. "We continue to see strong demand for JetBlue's service, and are excited and gratified by our customer loyalty in new and existing markets."

During the quarter, JetBlue's net fuel price was $1.50 a gallon, up 54.7% from the year-ago fuel price of 97 cents.

Revenue per available seat mile, a key industry measure of unit revenue also known as RASM, jumped 7.1% from a year ago. The increase came as JetBlue filled more of its seats with paying customers. Its load factor, or average percentage of seats filled, was 87.7%, up 3.2 percentage points from a year ago. Yield, or average fare, increased 2.4% from a year before.

But JetBlue's nonfuel unit costs crept up during the quarter. On a fuel-neutral basis, costs per available seat mile increased 3.7%. JetBlue ended the second quarter with $562 million in cash and investment securities.

Shares finished Wednesday's session at $22.80.

On Wednesday, large network carriers

Continental Airlines

(CAL) - Get Report

and

American Airlines'

parent

AMR

(AMR)

reported stronger-than-expected profits on cost-cutting and improving revenue trends. However, profits in the seasonally strong summer months likely aren't enough to keep the large carriers out of the red for the full year, given the high cost of fuel.