Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines Report Earnings


It’s Friday and Wall Street is up to its volatile tricks again today. Should be interesting to see where the numbers end at the close of the day.

Meanwhile, Continental Airlines and Southwest Airlines reported their third quarter earnings Thursday.

The Cliff Notes version of the results?

The numbers for both airlines — on their face — were very weird. Just as we saw yesterday with American and Delta. Weird in that with capacity being pulled out and oil prices through the roof for much of the third quarter, we again saw cost per ASM figures solidly in the double-digit category for both airlines.

But revenues were also up — especially at Southwest.

Continental reported a loss of $236 million or $2.14 a share. Excluding $91 million of previously announced special items, Continental recorded a net loss of $145 million or $1.32 a share.

Southwest’s numbers are a bit more complicated to break down — as a result of the airline’s fuel hedges.

Southwest reported net income excluding special items and SFAS 133 unrealized gains and losses of $69 million. Or $0.09 a share. This was two cents better than analyst consensus.

However, because of the drop in the value of crude oil, the airline had to write down the value of its fuel hedging transactions. (That is the bulk of that “SFAS 133 unrealized gains and losses” accounting mumbo jumbo up there.)

When you factor in those write-downs, the airline lost $120 million for the quarter, or $0.16.

That’s right. All those great fuel hedges the airline has stocked up on aren’t so great when the price of oil begins to plummet.

As for honest-to-gosh cash in the bank? The airline ended the quarter with $1.5 billion. With an incremental $200 million of a revolving credit line still available.

Four fully detailed reports on the earnings results from American, Continental, Southwest, and Delta Air Lines will be included in this week’s PlaneBusiness Banter.