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(Reuters) - JetBlue Airways Corp (JBLU.O) said Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled from a year earlier, topping analysts' estimates as cheap fuel and revenue from new checked bag fees and first-class seats added to its bottom line.
The U.S. budget carrier earned $190 million in the fourth quarter, up from $88 million a year ago. It earned 56 cents per diluted share, compared with the average analyst estimate of 51 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Shares rose about 3 percent in pre-market trading.
JetBlue said in a news release its fuel bill fell more than $100 million as the average price it paid per gallon dropped about 38 percent from a year ago. It also benefited from bag fees and tweaks to how it charges for flight reservation changes, which began June 30.
The airline said passenger unit revenue, which compares ticket sales to flight capacity, fell 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year ago.
Sterne Agee CRT analyst Adam Hackel said this beat expectations.
However, he added, "Investors should be cautious about (first-quarter) revenues because of Jonas," the winter storm that made New York-based JetBlue cancel more than 900 flights within the last week.
JetBlue forecast that unit costs would stay flat or fall up to 2 percent in the first quarter, not including the impact of the storm. Unit costs will stay flat or rise up to 2 percent for the full year, it said.
"We posted another strong quarter, producing above industry average revenue performance and running a safe and reliable operation," Chief Executive Robin Hayes said in the news release.
The airline said it expects flight capacity to rise between 14 percent and 16 percent in the first quarter.
Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in New York; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama