(By Balachander) Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) posted quarterly profit, matching market expectations, and the airliner projects a 4 percent to 6 percent growth in unit revenue for the first quarter.
Non-GAAP earnings per share were 28 cents. GAAP net income was $7 million or $0.01 per share, compared with $425 million or $0.50 per share in the comparable period of last year.
The airliner recorded charges totaling $231 million in the fourth quarter versus a $46 million gain in the year-ago period, which recorded $164 million mark to market gain primarily for open fuel hedges settling in future periods.
"Delta's results this quarter are remarkable in light of the $100 million negative impact Superstorm Sandy had on our airline and refinery operations," said CFO Paul Jacobson. "We have generated $4 billion in free cash flow over the past three years, and we expect to build on that momentum in 2013 with the additional benefits of further debt reduction and $1 billion of structural cost initiatives."
Total operating revenue rose 2 percent to $8.60 billion versus consensus estimate of $8.59 billion. Delta's unit revenue increased 4.3 percent for the quarter.
Total operating expense increased 8 percent due to rise in fuel costs and wages, the company noted.
For the three months ended December, load factor rose to 83.3 percent, with traffic up 0.7 percent on a 1.3 percent decrease in capacity.
The stock, which has been trading in the 52-week range of $8.42 to $14.11, ended at $13.61 on Friday.