Hurricanes impacted JetBlue Airways Corp. (JBLU) in the third quarter and will force the carrier to reallocate capacity in the fourth quarter.

JetBlue on Tuesday, Oct. 24, reported third-quarter net income of $179 million or 55 cents a share. Analysts had estimated 53 cents. Passenger revenue per available seat mile decreased 0.4% as capacity grew 3.7%.

On the cost side, cost per available seat mile excluding fuel increased 2.7% to 8.07 cents.

Looking ahead, the carrier forecast that fourth-quarter RASM will be flat to down 3%, while capacity will increase 4.5% to 5.5% and cost per available seat mile will rise between 5% and 7%.

"Our third-quarter results were impacted by two hurricanes that reduced our EPS by approximately 6 cents," said CEO Robin Hayes in a prepared statement. "We are confident that the adjustments we are making to our network will limit any ongoing financial impact in 2018. "

Cowen & Co. analyst Helane Becker said 22% of JetBlue capacity touches the Caribbean in the fourth quarter. She said she expects that "management will discuss their plan for reallocated capacity from the Caribbean to other leisure destinations as the Caribbean rebuilds from the hurricanes." An earnings call is scheduled for 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

Deutsche Bank analyst Mike Linenberg said JetBlue produced "solid Sept Q results despite [the] impact of hurricanes." Linenberg said the cost increases are "expected given negative hurricane impacts."

Buckingham Research analyst Dan McKenzie maintained a neutral rating and a $22 price target, based on shares trading at 11 times his 2018 earnings per share estimate. Shares closed Monday at $19.88.

"JetBlue is a great story though multiple expansion is unlikely given near-term noise tied to lingering revenue challenges from the hurricanes (~450 bps); [ultra-low-cost-carrier pricing challenges (~150 bps); ongoing negotiations with pilots; and competitive capacity that ticks up in key JBLU growth markets (BOS; MCO; and the Miami area)," he wrote in a report.

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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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