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Delta’s Earnings Match Expectations As Company Plans Margin Expansion For 2017

Thursday, January 12, 2017 5:41
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From Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) early Thursday posted in-line Q4 earnings results and offered a somewhat upbeat forecast for Q1, as it seeks to expand margins in the second half of 2017.

The Atlanta-based airline operator reported Q4 EPS of $0.82, which matched Wall Street expectations. Revenues fell 0.5% from last year to $9.46 billion, beating the consensus analyst estimate of $9.37 billion.

On a sour note, Delta said that passenger unit revenues fell 2.7% in the latest period, on a 0.9% increase in capacity.

Looking ahead, DAL forecast Q1 consolidated passenger unit revenue (PRASM) to rise 0% to 2% in Q1, up from a prior outlook for flat growth. It also expects Q1 operating margins of 11% to 13% in the current quarter.

The company commented via press release:

“Delta had a year of record-breaking performance in 2016 – financially, operationally and for our customers – and it’s an honor to recognize our employees’ efforts this year with over $1 billion in profit sharing,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive officer. “As we move into 2017, we are seeing our unit revenues turn positive which should return the company to margin expansion by the back half of the year. This will allow us to produce the solid returns and cash flows that investors rely upon from Delta.”

Delta Air Lines, Inc. shares rose $0.66 (+1.28%) in premarket trading Thursday. Year-to-date, DAL has gained 4.57%, versus a 1.60% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

DAL currently has an POWR Rating of A (Strong Buy), and is ranked #1 of 18 stocks in the Airlines category.

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