NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Expectations were very high for Delta's (DAL) results in November, given domestic traffic strength and the shift of the post-Thanksgiving Sunday travel day into November 2014 from December 2013.
The expectations were not quite met, and Delta opened the trading day on Tuesday down 69 cents after closing Monday at $45.62. In mid-morning trading, shares were down 75 cents to $44.87.
Delta was the first carrier to issue a November traffic report: It said November passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) rose 4.5%.
In a note issued Tuesday morning, JPMorgan analyst Jamie Baker wrote that the 4.5% gain "was largely unremarkable to us, and we believe broadly in line with company expectations.
"However, the company's release was immediately met with a deluge of negative investor commentary, which we believe may have been driven by an overestimation of this year's Thanksgiving shift," Baker wrote.
Baker said that the Sunday shift was probably worth 1.5 to 2 points of PRASM. He noted that in 2013, it wasn't just the post-Thanksgiving Sunday that shifted to December, but also the following Monday and Tuesday, both heavy demand days.
"Some may have failed to note that just one day, not all three, would impact this November's outcome, potentially leading to overinflated expectations," he wrote.
In its report, Delta said the 4.5% PRASM gain was "driven by the strong unit revenue performance in the domestic entity, with particular strength in Atlanta and Seattle, along with the calendar placement of the Thanksgiving holiday which shifted the highest revenue day of the year from December back into November."
However, international RPMs rose 1.2% on a capacity gain of 4.5%, including a 14.5% gain in Latin America. In the Pacific, the weakest region, RPMs fell 3.3% on a capacity decrease of 0.6%.
Delta, which strives to complete every flight, said its November completion rate was 99.9%.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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