Alaska Air Group profits jump 22 percent

Posted: Friday, October 21, 2005

SEATTLE - Alaska Air Group Inc. said Thursday that third-quarter profits rose 22 percent, beating Wall Street expectations, and added that it expects to be one of the few U.S. airline companies to post a full-year profit.

Alaska Air Group's stock fell 16 cents, or less than 1 percent, to close at $29.34 in trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Analyst Raymond Neidl with Calyon Securities said the company's stock, which rose directly after earnings were released, likely fell later in the day because of a more general drop in the market. The Dow Jones industrials fell 133.03, or 1.28 percent, to 10,281.10 Thursday.

"The whole sector got hit across the board," he said. "I think it was just a market move."

Net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 was $90.2 million, or $2.71 per share, up from $74 million, or $2.29 per share, in the year-earlier period.

Not counting the effect of fuel-hedge accounting adjustments and other items, income was $71.5 million, or $2.16 per share, versus $50.7 million, or $1.58 per share, in the same quarter last year.

The Seattle company, which includes Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, said revenue rose 10.1 percent to $845.7 million, from $768.2 million in the same period a year earlier.

On average, analysts polled by Thomson Financial were looking for earnings, excluding special items, of $2.12 per share on revenue of $823.3 million.

In a conference call with analysts, Alaska Chief Executive Bill Ayer said the company expects to post a modest profit for the full year. The company said it expects to break even in the current fourth quarter.



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