Southwest Posts $140 Million Quarterly Loss

Published by: Kelly Curtis on 20th Oct 2011 | View all blogs by Kelly Curtis
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Southwest Posts $140 Million Quarterly Loss

Southwest Airlines, the discount carrier headquartered in Dallas, Texas, issued its third-quarter results Thursday, posting a net loss due to write-downs in its fuel hedge program, though it reported a profit after excluding certain one-time items.  After acquiring AirTran Holdings earlier this year, the airline is expecting solid growth in passenger unit revenues into the fourth quarter, basing those expectations on its performance this month.

In the three months ended September 30th, Southwest posted a net loss of $140 million, or 18 cents per share, compared to a profit of $205 million, 27 cents per share, in the same period a year ago.  The results included a $227 million hit taken by the company in relation to its fuel hedge program.  Overall revenue for the discount airline, meanwhile, rose 35 percent from the year-ago period to $4.3 billion, slightly ahead of the $4.23 billion analysts had forecast, on average, in a recent FactSet survey.

Southwest's passenger revenue accounted for the bulk of the gain, climbing 32 percent from a year ago, while freight revenue also increased, bu a more modest 13 percent.  Other revenue more than doubled, meanwhile, as the company benefited from early check-in fees and success with its loyalty rewards program.  Like other airlines, Southwest's bottom line was impacted by rising fuel costs as its operating expenses rose 44 percent during the quarter.  Fuel was easily the airline's biggest expense, with its fuel bill rising a staggering 71 percent from a year ago.

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