* Adjusted profit 26 cents/shr compares with estimate 19 cts
* Revenue up 3.9 percent
* Shares rise nearly 4 pct
(Adds analyst comment, share price)
Jan 23 US Airways Group Inc said on
Wednesday that fourth-quarter profit more than doubled as higher
revenue offset cost increases.
Its shares were up nearly 4 percent in early afternoon
The carrier, which has been in talks with bankrupt AMR
Corp's American Airlines for months about a possible
merger, said improved on-time arrivals and baggage handling
helped drive traffic and revenue.
Full-year profit excluding special items came to $537
million, the highest annual profit in company history, the
Though US Airways does not have major operations in the
biggest U.S. cities - it has hubs in Philadelphia, Charlotte,
North Carolina, and Phoenix - the carrier makes the most of its
network, said Darryl Jenkins, chairman of the American Aviation
Institute in Washington.
"The advantage they have is that some of their hubs,
especially Charlotte, are very well-protected, unlike Phoenix,
which has an enormous amount of low-cost competition," Jenkins
U.S. carriers have merged, stopped flying unprofitable
routes and raised ticket prices in an effort to recover in
recent years. Carriers have also cut back flying to match demand
and created new revenue streams with baggage and food fees,
moves that have helped keep profit coming despite volatile fuel
On Tuesday, Delta Air Lines posted a lower
fourth-quarter profit but said results would improve in 2013 as
it makes targeted investments to drive revenue.
Net income at US Airways rose to $37 million, or 22 cents a
share, in the fourth quarter, compared with $18 million or 11
cents a share a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, profit was 26 cents a share,
compared with 19 cents expected by analysts on average,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
US Airways said Superstorm Sandy, which barreled through the
U.S. Northeast in late October and hobbled operations at major
New York area airports, hurt results by about $35 million.
Revenue rose 3.9 percent to $3.28 billion. Passenger revenue
per available seat mile, a measure of pricing power and the
extent to which planes are filled with passengers, rose 2.2
percent in the quarter.
Operating expenses rose 3.5 percent, with fuel and related
taxes up 2.1 percent. Costs tied to salaries rose about 10
Shares of US Airways were up 3.7 percent at $15.41 on
Wednesday afternoon. Shares of other major U.S. airlines were
lower, with Delta off 0.8 percent at $13.90, United Continental
Holdings down 0.4 percent at $25.09 and Southwest
Airlines down 0.8 percent at $11.39.
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick,
Grant McCool and Matthew Lewis)