Updated from 9:28 a.m. EDTEven Southwest Airlines ( LUV) had trouble avoiding a turbulent second quarter for the industry. The low-cost carrier posted its 53rd consecutive quarter with a profit Thursday, but missed Wall Street estimates and said comparisons would be tougher going forward. The
Expenses continue to rise, despite the fact Southwest has the large majority of its fuel needs hedged and isn't as vulnerable to spikes in the price of oil. The carrier said expenses came in at $1.52 billion, up 10.5% from last year, with cost per available seat mile, or CASM, coming in at 8.09 cents, up 5.3% year-over-year. Going forward, the company said that bookings for the rest of July and August were high and recent fare sales were driving demand for September, not traditionally a busy season for the carrier. But with comparisons getting tougher in the third quarter, Southwest cautioned that revenue and earnings growth would grow at a slower pace and said revenue per available seat mile, or RASM, would fall below the 9.14 cents seen in the second quarter. Despite the tougher comparisons, Southwest said it was on track to beat the profit of 13 cents a share it had during last year's third quarter, en route to what would be its 54th straight quarter with a profit. But with Wall Street expecting the carrier to earn 16 cents a share, earnings estimates could come down. Look for more quarterly results from airlines next week, but don't look for profits -- analysts still expect the industry to post losses, despite the fact the second quarter is seasonally strong. Delta Air Lines ( DAL) releases on Monday, followed by Continental Airlines ( CAL) on Tuesday and Northwest Airlines ( NWAC) on Wednesday. Quarterly results from Southwest peer JetBlue ( JBLU) hit the market on Thursday, with AirTran ( AAI) releasing on July 27.