Southwest Airlines’ Record Load Factor Drives Q4 Earnings Beat

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January 26, 2017 7:06am NYSE:LUV

From Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV) early Thursday posted better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings results, bolstered by record passenger revenues and fuller planes than ever before.

The Dallas-based airline operator reported Q4 EPS of $0.75, which was $0.06 better than the Wall Street consensus estimate of $0.69. Revenues rose 2.0% from last year to $5.08 billion, also topping analysts’ $5.03 billion view.

Southwest said its record operating revenues were driven mostly by record fourth quarter passenger revenues totaling $4.6 billion. Strong demand for low airline fares drove another record as well, namely, an 84.4% percent load factor.

Looking ahead, LUV forecast Q1 2017 revenues to be flat to down 1% when compared with the year-ago period.

The company commented via press release:

“As we close out a year of record results, we begin 2017 with momentum and enthusiasm. We are on track to open a new international terminal in Fort Lauderdale, along with the launch of new service, this June. We are on track to launch the new Boeing 737-8 in the fall. And, we are encouraged by recent revenue trends, as well as the prospects for continued economic growth and moderate fuel prices. We are excited about our current outlook for another strong year with opportunities to win more Customers and reward our People and our Shareholders.”

Southwest Airlines Co shares were unchanged in premarket trading Thursday. Year-to-date, LUV has declined -0.76%, versus a 2.70% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

LUV currently has a POWR Rating of A (Strong Buy), and is ranked #2 of 18 stocks in the Airlines category.

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