Delta Air Lines Inc. expects a closely watched revenue measure to rise for the first time in two years, although higher labor costs will weigh on its profits in 2017, the company said on Thursday.
The Atlanta, GA-based carrier’s fourth-quarter earnings (excluding special items) of 82 cents per share met the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The bottom line, however, declined over 30% on a year-over-year basis. Operating revenues of $9,458 million beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 1.1%. Revenues declined marginally from the year-ago figure. “Delta provided a Q1 guide predicated on positive (unit revenue), a feat that would have been viewed as remarkable by last July’s standards, but current buy-side expectations were expecting as much,” JPMorgan analyst Jamie Baker said in a note. Shares were down sector-wide in afternoon trading. Cheaper fares and increased competition have battered the U.S. industry for months. For full-year 2016, the carrier’s earnings (on an adjusted basis) climbed 15.4% to $5.32 per share. Revenues declined 3% to $39.64 billion. The Zacks Consensus Estimate was of earnings of $5.32 per share on revenues of $39.6 billion. Delta shares were down 10 cents at $51.35 in premarket trading.
Delta’s results and reports from other major U.S. airlines suggest an improving unit revenue environment, according to CFRA Research analyst Jim Corridore.