AirTran, JetBlue, Northwest Report Earnings


Another week, another week of airline earnings reports.

Today we had three airlines spill the beans from last quarter. Three airlines. Three losses. But losses or no, all three either posted better than expected numbers or hit the bullseye, in terms of what analysts were expecting. 

Short and sweet? AirTran Holdings lost $2.2 million, or $0.02 in the fourth quarter. The year prior, it lost $3.6 million, or $0.04. This result was dead-on with the airline’s forecasted results.

also posted a loss for the quarter. The airline posted a Q4 loss of  $4 million or $0.02, which was, according to the latest analyst consensus numbers, a better than expected result. Analysts had forecast the airline would post a loss of $0.05.

The airline also managed to post it first profitable full year of operation in three years. For the full year, JetBlue earned $18 million, or 10 cents a share, versus a loss of $1 million, break-even on a per-share basis, in 2006.

Finally, Northwest Airlines reported a loss of $8 million, or $0.03 cents per share, for the quarter. This was a touch better than the analysts’ consensus — which had forecast a loss of $0.08.

That’s also better than the $267 million loss, or $3.06, the airline posted in the fourth quarter of 2006. Then again, that was one of those bankruptcy “kitchen-sink” quarters.

Fourth-quarter numbers also  included a $14 million pre-tax charge tied to the sale of Northwest’s stake in regional carrier Pinnacle Airlines. Excluding that charge, Northwest said, it would have broken even for the fourth quarter.