Delta Air Lines (DAL) topped analysts’ expectations on earnings for the third quarter of 2018 but revenues slightly missed the mark. The stock rose 3.3% in premarket hours.
The airline reported total operating revenue of $11.9 billion, an increase of 8% from the same period last year. Adjusted operating revenue also grew 8%, driven by improvements in the business, including an increase of around 20% in premium product ticket revenues and double-digit percentage increases in cargo, loyalty and maintenance, repair and overhaul revenue.
On a GAAP basis, net income improved 13% to $1.31 billion or $1.91 per share from the same period last year. Adjusted net income totaled $1.23 billion or $1.80 per share, reflecting a 16% increase in EPS that was driven by revenue momentum, tax reform benefits and a lower share count.
Total adjusted operating expenses rose $1 billion from last year, with more than half of the increase driven by higher fuel prices. Adjusted fuel expense rose 35% from last year while CASM-Ex remained flat.
Despite the higher expenses, the company saw revenue improvements across all its components. During all three months of the quarter, Delta saw growth in passenger traffic reach record levels which has helped push earnings growth.
Total unit revenues, excluding refinery sales, grew 4.3% fuelled by improvements in demand and yields. Revenue passenger miles increased 3.8% during the quarter while available seat miles increased 3.9%. Passenger load factor remained unchanged at 86.9%.
For the fourth quarter of 2018, Delta expects total revenue to grow around 8% and for total unit revenue, excluding refinery sales, to increase 3-5% year-over-year. EPS is expected to be $1.10 to $1.30.