Tag Archives: NYSE:LUV

Looks Like Southwest Airlines’ Pilots and the Airline Have a New Tentative Agreement

We hear from one of our Southwest Airlines‘ friends that the pilots at Southwest, who are represented by their own independent union, SWAPA, and the airline, have come to terms on a new tentative agreement.

Here is an excerpt from Carl Kuwitzky’s blog that was blasted to pilots this afternoon. Carl is the President of SWAPA.

“Last night SWAPA agreed in principle on a new five year contract with the Company through August 31, 2011. This new contract includes the following: stronger scope language as well as codeshare restrictions not previously released including no domestic codeshare, increase in pay rates including retroactive pay, increase in 401K match, improved disability program and streamlined/improved scheduling and work rule language. Additionally we have retained the Lance Captain program and ELITT albeit with changes to current language. Our Negotiating Committee (NC) is continuing to negotiate final language and when that work is completed will present a Tentative Agreement to the BoD for approval. If the BoD approves the new contract it will be sent to the membership for final ratification. I anticipate a BoD meeting in late February or early March to review the TA.”

This news comes as it was announced today that the mechanics at the airline approved their proposed TA with the airline by a 61% majority.

Southwest Airlines’ Stock Goes Up, Goes Back Down


I’ve had a couple of emails this morning from readers wondering why Southwest Airlines’ shares, which rose yesterday on the news that the airline was essentially shutting down the growth faucets, are now moving in the opposite direction today.

As of this posting, shares of Southwest have lost 17% for the day, now trading around 8.10 a share, down from their close yesterday of 9.81.

So what gives?

Simple. The market reacted positively yesterday to the headline news: growth being curbed.

Today, investors have had more time to think about the rest of the news the airline gave us yesterday. And, investors have also had the benefit of a number of airline analyst research notes on the results.

From Gary Chase, analyst with Barclays:

LUV results were better than we expected, largely on better passenger revenue performance. Non-fuel costs came in a touch better, but remain under pressure. We expect LUV will benefit from industry capacity reductions and lower fuel prices, but don’t see nearly as compelling an opportunity in LUV shares as we see in other names…….2009 estimate is reduced from $0.65 to $0.45, principally on lower passenger revenue assumptions.We’ve been modeling RASM out-performance for LUV relative to other LFCs and the industry at-large given its revenue initiatives, but think it will be increasingly difficult for the company to outperform the industry to that extent given economic slowing.”

From Kevin Crissey, UBS Securities:

…”Our view on the stock

We view LUV’s valuation as getting stretched. It is trading at we view as an ‘okay’ 6x 2009 EV/EBITDAR but a robust 16x our 2009 EPS estimate. With growth non-existent, unit costs rising, economic fuel prices above peers and the balance sheet okay but less impressive, we question whether there is upside potential to valuation from here. We are cautious on LUV and rate it Neutral…”

From Ray Neidl, Calyon Securities:

“We believe investors should take profit,” Neidl said in a research note this morning as the firm dropped its target price on the shares from $8 to $7. The firm also cuts its rating on the stock from underperform to “sell.”

When was the last time we saw a “sell” rating on shares of Southwest?

Southwest Airlines: No More Growth


Southwest Airlines was the third major airline to report earnings this quarter, as the airline rolled out their results this morning.

The verdict?

The airline posted its second quarterly loss in a row.

The reason? Just as we saw with American and United yesterday — getting caught on the wrong side of the hedges. Fuel hedges that is.

Including special items, the airline posted a loss of $56 million or $0.08 per share. Last year the airline posted a profit of $111 million or $0.15 a share. Excluding special items, the airline posted a profit of $61 million or $0.08 a share. This compares to last year when the airline posted a profit of $87 million or $0.12 a share.

For the year, the airline posted net income of $178 million. This compares to 2007, when the airline posted net profit of $645 million or $0.84 a share. Excluding special items, full year 2008 net income was $294 million or $0.40 per diluted share, compared to $471 million, or $0.61 per share in 2007.

While these numbers would not look like numbers that would push shares higher — shares in the airline are now up about 17% on the day. Why?

The quarterly numbers are not what is pushing the shares higher.

The fact that CEO Gary Kelly came out and said that growth at the airline has been “suspended indefinitely” is the reason the shares are up.

I know, it’s convoluted.

But in the world of Wall Street — the biggest fear was that Southwest would NOT make a serious attempt to cut back on growth. Since the airline now seems determined to do so — that is seen as a positive. It is anticipated that fewer ASMs will result in higher loads and better revenues in 2009.

“I definitely want Southwest Airlinesto grow,” CEO Gary Kelly said on the airline’s conference call today. “I believe we will be able to grow, but that is certainly a secondary objective in this kind of an economic environment.”

The airline has now reduced its 2010 Boeing delivery schedule of new aircraft down to 10. The airline previously had 16 aircraft on firm order and six options for the year.

Southwest ended December with 537 aircraft. It expects to end 2009 with 535 — as lease expirations and retirements cancel out the 13 new Boeing 737-700s now expected to be delivered during the year.

Happy Friday: Gary Kelly’s Financial Stewardship Dinged By Chief Executive Magazine

Yours truly is in the midst of my usual two week holiday hiatus from publishing PlaneBusiness Banter this week — and in fact I’m not at either the main Worldwide Headquarters in the swamp or at the branch office in Dallas.

Today I find myself in the lovely confines of Tucson, Arizona. The sun is out — but it was a bit chilly here this morning. 33 degrees to be exact. Yes, we are on the back end of the same storm that dumped the almost four inches of snow on Las Vegas this week. The same storm that is now making life in much of the rest of the country more than miserable.

My condolences to those of you trying to fly out or into Chicago today — but for those of you on the East Coast — it’s coming your way later today. Oh, boy. Just what our friends, the things with wings, need to contend with on the weekend before Christmas.

But enough of my frigid travel travails. Let’s talk about some news of note involving the things with wings. Southwest Airlines to be precise.

Chief Executive Magazine Cites Southwest’s CEO for “Wealth Destruction”


Chief Executive magazine used its end-of-year issue to note those CEOs who they think are both doing the best and worst jobs at creating value at their respective companies.

In its first annual Chief Executive/Applied Finance Group Wealth Creation Rankings — the magazine partnered with Applied Finance Group — creators of the Economic Margin (EM) value metric and Drew Morris, CEO of Great Numbers!

As the magazine noted in its introduction to its rankings,

As we have seen with the recent meltdown in financial markets, value isn’t always what it appears to be. And traditional accounting measures do not count what really counts. Earnings per share (EPS) and price/earnings (P/E) ratios are based on accounting profit, which is prone to distortion and has no real relationship to wealth creation. Trying to grow earnings or EPS in the belief that the stock market will reward you with a higher share price no longer works, as investors really seek to understand the company’s underlying economic performance.

To state the obvious, navigating with instruments that mislead is dangerous. CEOs need to look at their businesses with the same wealth-creation measures that, for example, private equity and institutional investors use. Investors want to know how good a company and its leaders are at preserving and growing their capital.

Many companies have moved from accounting to economic approaches to measuring this. A few, such as EVA, are good because they reckon with the true cost of capital, but none are perfect. Our rankings rely on Economic Margin, a measure with which executives can readily manage wealth creation, and which is applicable at all levels of a company. EM is calculated as the difference between operating cash flow and an appropriate capital charge, all divided by invested capital. EM is suitable for both private and public companies and useful for making comparisons with competitors, as it’s an economic-profitability percentage, not a monetary amount.

The ranking method we used also considers management’s demonstrated ability to protect shareholder wealth and create truly valuable assets. Our intent is to advance the art, science and practice of creating wealth for a company’s owners and the associated results creation skills of its executive team.”

So who were the top ten best “wealth creators” according to this methodology?

10 Best Wealth Creators



1. J. Christopher Donahue

Federated Investors

2. Jeffrey P. Bezos


3. Robert W. Selander


4. Mark Donegan

Precision Castparts

5. Hugh Grant


6. John W. Rowe


7. John C. Martin, Ph.D.

Gilead Sciences

8. Daniel P. Amos


9. Andrea Jung


10. Clayton M. Jones

Rockwell Collins

And which CEOs were the best “wealth destroyers?”

10 Best Wealth Destroyers



1. James R. Tobin

Boston Scientific

2. Robert J. Coury


3. Gary C. Kelly

Southwest Airlines

4. Herb M. Allison, Jr.

Fannie Mae

5. Eli Harari, Ph.D.


6. Glen F. Post, III


7. Larry L. Weyers

Integrys Energy

8. Steven R. Appleton

Micron Technology

9. John A. Luke, Jr.


10. Lynn Laverty Elsenhans


Clearly, for our purposes here in PlaneBuzz, the only CEO of interest to us in all of this was Southwest’s Gary Kelly. Particularly because when Kelly was named as CEO of the airline, the bulk of the scuttlebutt around the announcement dealt with the fact that because he had been such an excellent CFO of the airline — that he would help shore up the airline’s financial side — and most importantly to stockholders — its stock price.

According to Chief Executive’s metric, however, Gary hasn’t fared too well over the last three years. Here is what the magazine said about Southwest.

“Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines
Score: 6

Southwest’s low score may come as a surprise considering it’s arguably among the best-managed airlines. But it’s an airline; the only one in the S&P 500. That means planes, airport fees and lots of competition. The market is far from wild about the value of its assets. In the EM sector rankings, Southwest was grouped with other transportation companies, all of which performed better. Southwest’s EM ranged between -.5 percent (-.005) and -0.9 percent (almost -1 percent) over the 2005-07 period. While its SEC filings show a profit during this time, when Southwest’s off-balance sheet leases and other adjustments are accounted for, the picture reverses. For example, applying those adjustments to Southwest’s 2007 results increases its invested capital by $5.9 billion, or 35 percent. The $1.7 billion capital charge on this amount exceeded its $1.5 billion operating cash flow, resulting in a negative Economic Margin.”

The article is a very interesting read. Well worth it. And not just for its rather low opinion of Mr. Kelly’s ability to create and/or protect shareholder wealth at Southwest Airlines. You can access the entire article here.

No Wonder My Southwest Airlines Pre-Turkey Day Flight Wasn’t Full


And we thought Continental’s numbers were bad.


Southwest Airlines reported its November traffic numbers this morning. Sitting down?

The airline reported that RPMs declined 8.3% on flat ASM figures. That my friends, translates to a load factor of only 63.2%, down from 69.3% for the same period last year. That is a 6.1 point drop in load factor.

Anyone out there still think that demand is holding steady? Raise that hand higher, I can’t see it.

Not good. Especially with Southwest making the bet earlier this year that people would “book away” from other carriers, preferring to fly with “no fees.”

As usual, Southwest gave no RASM estimates for the month.