TEXT-S&P: Alaska Air ratings unaffected by share repurchases
Sept 26 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that its ratings and outlook on Seattle, Wash.-based Alaska Air Group Inc. (BB-/Positive/--) and its Alaska Airlines Inc. (BB-/Positive/--) subsidiary are unaffected by the company's announcement that its board of directors has authorized a new $250 million share repurchase program. Since 2007, the company has repurchased $312 million of its shares. The new program is substantially higher than previous programs, which have typically been $50 million. However, we expect the company to repurchase the shares at a similar rate as those of the previous programs through Dec. 31, 2014--its target date for completion. The company will finance the repurchase with unrestricted cash on hand, about $1.2 billion as of Aug. 31, 2012. As a result, we do not expect the program to affect the company's credit metrics or liquidity.