P/> MIRAMAR, FLA (TheStreet) -- Shares in Spirit (SAVE) were rising Tuesday after the rapidly expanding low-fare carrier beat analysts' earnings estimates.

Spirit said it earned $19.5 million, or 27 cents a share, in the fourth quarter; analysts had estimated 24 cents. Revenue rose 20% to $328 million; analysts estimated $330 million. Capacity grew by 28%.

Spirit shares were trading early Tuesday at $20.35, up 97 cents, or about 5%, easily leading airline shares.

"The company currently has no on-balance sheet debt and produced a pretax return on invested capital of 26.5% for the year ended Dec. 31, 2012, the highest among publicly-traded U.S. airlines," wrote Deutsche Bank analyst Michael Linenberg, in a note following the release.

"Hurricane Sandy had a massive negative impact on SAVE's results," wrote Avondale Partners analyst Fred Lawrence, in a note. "On an adjusted basis, adding related revenue and pretax income back to numbers, SAVE would have reported fourth quarter EPS of roughly 47 cent -- easily exceeding the pre-Sandy consensus estimate of 38 cents."

Results included an estimated $25 million in lost revenue due to Hurricane Sandy. The fourth-quarter operating margin was 9.7%; Spirit said it would have been $15.8 million were it not for Sandy. Revenue per available seat mile declined 6.6%, reflecting the negative impact of Sandy and a 5.3% increase in average stage length.

Non-ticket revenue per passenger flight segment grew 9.4% to $52.73, while average ticket revenue per passenger flight segment fell 8.6% to $71.30.

During the quarter, cost per available seat mile excluding fuel and special items declined by 2.5%.

For the full year, excluding special items, Spirit earned $104 million and posted a return on invested capital of 26.5%. The company ended the year with $417 million in cash.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

More from Stocks

Takeda Pharmaceutical CEO Talks Big Pharma Trends

Takeda Pharmaceutical CEO Talks Big Pharma Trends

Why Bankrate's CFA Expects Two More Rate Hikes in 2019

Why Bankrate's CFA Expects Two More Rate Hikes in 2019

Norwegian Cruise Lines Could Be Docking With a Dividend in 2019

Norwegian Cruise Lines Could Be Docking With a Dividend in 2019

Why Sears is One of Jim Cramer's 'Finest Hours'

Why Sears is One of Jim Cramer's 'Finest Hours'

Could Blockchain Be as Big as the Cloud?

Could Blockchain Be as Big as the Cloud?