Up, up, and away! Southwest Airlines said this morning that its third-quarter net income more than tripled, hitting $162 million, or 22 cents per share. The change was largely related to hedging losses swallowed in the year-earlier period. Excluding this data and various charges, earnings hit 21 cents per share, matching Wall Street's consensus view.
Revenue was 10.5% higher at $2.59 billion, just slightly higher than analysts' expectations of $2.58 billion. Revenue passenger miles (a measure of passenger traffic) rose 11% and capacity increased 8.1%. Load factor (the percentage of available seats that were filled) rose to 76.6%, hitting a new record.
While these numbers were fairly positive for the most part, the challenge of rising fuel costs remains. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly noted that market crude oil prices hitting all-time high levels further accentuates our cost challenge. Nonetheless, should current trends continue, fourth-quarter revenue is expected to exceed year-ago results.
LUV shares have dropped 1.6% today as crude continues to test new highs. The stock is caught between support and resistance it continues to hold above chart support at the 14 mark, but has yet been unable to bust through trendline resistance overhead in the form of its 10-week and 20-week trendlines. These moving averages recently completed a bearish crossover, which doesn't bode well for the short-term technical future of the shares.