Delta Air Lines’ Shares Go Boom On Negative Guidance


While analysts continue to wax poetic about revenue forecasts for the industry in 2009, the market took a baseball bat to many of the major airline stocks today — after Delta Air Lines rolled out its disappointing numbers for the fourth quarter.

This morning Delta reported it lost $1.4 billion in the fourth quarter or $2.11 a share. This compared to a loss of $70 million or $0.18 a share for the previous year. This number included $904 million in charges related to employee equity awards that were a part of the Delta/Northwest deal.

Excluding special items, Delta lost $340 million or $0.50 a share. This was much worse that the $0.34 figure that had been forecast in the analyst consensus. However, Delta said that the analyst consensus figure did not take into consideration a 12 cent per share loss related to the “non-cash impact of purchase accounting.”


But as bad as these numbers were, this was not the news that has pushed shares of Delta, and other airline stocks to the floor today.

The news that is doing that is the “forward guidance” comments the airline made today.

You know .. little things like….”unit revenue projection is much worse than what had been previously suggested.” When it was “previously suggested” …in December.

Traders don’t like to hear things like that. If those forecasts are that far off after only one month, that is not a good omen.

As a result, shares of Delta are taking a sharp dive today, down 20% as I write this, trading at around 7.95.

And because what affects one major airline is assumed to affect all of them to one degree or another, shares of US Airways are also getting punished, as they are down 17%, trading at 6.36. Shares of AMR are not exempt, as they are now trading down 13%, hovering around the 6.27 mark.

Shares of Continental are not being left out of the carnage today either. Shares here are now trading down about 16%, at 14.17, while shares of United are trading down 11%, around 10.85.