Delta Air Lines’ fourth-quarter profits exceeded the expectations of analysts that boosted the carrier’s result and shares’ price. The increase in profits is due to lower fuel prices and strong travel demand, especially on high-priced, premium tickets.
Delta reported adjusted earnings of USD 1.70 a share, compared with analysts’ expectations of USD 1.40 a share.
On an unadjusted basis, Delta reported a net income of USD 1.1 billion, up 8% from USD 1.02 billion during the fourth quarter of 2018. Revenues in the three months rose 6.5% from a year earlier to USD 11.44 billion, slightly above analysts’ estimates. Revenue from Delta’s premium cabins, such as business class, grew 9% to USD 3.7 billion. That was more than twice the growth rate for the main cabin, where revenue was USD 5.24 billion in the fourth quarter.
Delta benefited from cheaper fuel and the unwinding of its minority stake in Brazilian carrier Gol, the result of Delta’s new stake in Gol’s larger South American competitor Latam.
Delta said it expects unit revenues to be flat to up 2% in the first quarter of 2020, and flat margins. The airline also said its expenses excluding fuel would rise 2% to 3% in the quarter. The airline reiterated its 2020 guidance of earnings per share of USD 6.75 to USD 7.75.
Delta does not have Boeing 737 Max in its fleet, which has scaled back the growth of its competitors.