Delta Air Lines' CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Delta Air Lines (DAL)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 25, 2012 10:00 am ET

Executives

Jill Greer -

Richard H. Anderson - Chief Executive Officer and Director

Edward H. Bastian - President and Director

Paul A. Jacobson - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President

Glen W. Hauenstein - Executive Vice President of Revenue Management & Network Planning

Michael H. Campbell - Executive Vice President of Human Resources & Labor Relations

Garrett L. Chase - Senior Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis and Investor Relations

John E. Walker - Chief Communications Officer and Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications

Analysts

William J. Greene - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Jamie N. Baker - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Savanthi Syth - Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division

Michael Linenberg - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Glenn D. Engel - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

David E. Fintzen - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Hunter K. Keay - Wolfe Trahan & Co.

Daniel McKenzie - Rodman & Renshaw, LLC, Research Division

Helane R. Becker - Dahlman Rose & Company, LLC, Research Division

Duane Pfennigwerth - Evercore Partners Inc., Research Division

Andrew Compart

Karen Jacobs

Presentation

Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Delta Air Lines March 2012 Quarter Financial Results Conference Call. My name is Cynthia, and I will be your coordinator. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, today's call is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to Ms. Jill Sullivan Greer, Managing Director of Investor Relations for Delta.

Jill Greer

Thanks, Cynthia. Good morning, everyone and thanks for joining us for our March quarter call. Joining us from Atlanta today are Richard Anderson, our CEO; Ed Bastian, our President; and Paul Jacobson, our Chief Financial Officer. Also in the room for the Q&A are Glen Hauenstein, Steve Gorman, Mike Campbell, Bolton Shannon, Mike Randolfi, Gary Chase, Evan Hurst and Ned Walker. Richard will open the call. Ed will then address our financial revenue performance and Paul will conclude with a review of cost performance and liquidity. And to get in as many questions as possible during the Q&A, please limit yourself to one question and a follow-up.

Today's discussion contains forward-looking statements that represent our beliefs or expectations about future events. All forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause the actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements. Some of the factors that may cause such differences are described in our SEC filings. We'll also discuss non-GAAP financial measures. All results exclude special items unless otherwise noted and you can find the reconciliation of our non-GAAP measures on the Investor Relations page at delta.com. And with that, I'll turn the call over to Richard.

Richard H. Anderson

Thank you, Jill. Good morning, everybody, and thanks for joining us on the call today. Before we go through our results, I'd like to congratulate my friend, Paul Jacobson, on his recent promotion to Chief Financial Officer of Delta. Paul started his career at Delta in 1997 and prior to his promotion, Paul was our Treasurer. He spearheaded our debt reduction and fuel management strategies, among other very capable activities on our behalf. He has a great track record and we're really pleased to have him in his new role. Also, Mike Randolfi is a 12-year veteran at Delta. We promoted Mike to the position of Senior Vice President of Finance and Controller. He has the lead on our accounting reporting and controllership functions. With his broad background at Delta, Mike is well suited to lead our cost-reduction efforts. And to round out our leadership changes, I'd like to welcome Gary Chase to Delta, where he is now our Senior Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis and Investor Relations. Gary brings a wealth of knowledge of the airline sector from his years as a very capable analyst and we're really glad to have him on this side of the call for a change. The great thing about it is I was able to get all of his questions asked before the call started. But congratulations to all of you. We're humbled that you're here with us.

Getting to our results this morning, we announced a pretax loss of $36 million, which is a $355 million improvement over last year, despite $250 million in higher fuel costs. We expanded our operating margin year-on-year by 4 points. We had strong revenue performance. Once again, we produced a revenue premium to the industry. Our total revenues increased $665 million or 9% from the prior year, against a 3% decrease in system capacity. I'd like to thank our employees for running a great operation and taking care of each other and taking care of our customers in the March quarter.

Our DOT on time arrival rate was 7 points better than last year. Our completion factor was 99.6%, a 2.8% improvement year-on-year and we had a 31% decrease in Department of Transportation bag planks, a new record low. And not surprisingly, our DOT complaints have fallen 53% year-to-date through February. And our international on time performance is industry-leading. Running reliable operations is important to our customers and clearly contributed to our revenue outperformance. The consistent ability of our employees to deliver a great operation and provide courteous customer service plays a big role in our success and for their great performance, our employees earned $22 million in share rewards for the quarter.

Our March quarter improvement in results and operations is evidence of the momentum we've built by executing consistently on our plan year in and year out. We've been successful at passing along higher fuel costs and have implemented a number of initiatives designed to ensure we are compensated for the services we provide. As a result, our revenue performance outpaced the industry and we saw margin improvement in every region and in every hub across our global network. You've heard us consistently state that we must be disciplined with capacity. To that end, our March quarter capacity was down by 3%. And for the full year, our system capacity would be down 2% to 3%. We continue to closely monitor all of our markets and for that matter, all of our steady pairs, to be certain we match supply to demand so that we may fully cover fuel costs and meet our profit goals.

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