Categories Analysis, Industrials

Key takeaways from Delta Air Lines’ (DAL) Q4 2023 earnings report

EPS is expected to range between $0.25-0.50 for the March quarter

Shares of Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) plunged over 8% on Friday after the company delivered better-than-expected earnings results for the fourth quarter of 2023 but lowered its full-year guidance. The stock has gained 13% over the past three months. Here are the key takeaways from the airline’s Q4 earnings report:

Quarterly numbers

Delta reported operating revenue of $14.2 billion for the fourth quarter of 2023, which was up 6% from the same quarter a year ago and ahead of estimates of $13.5 billion. Adjusted operating revenues increased 11% to $13.7 billion. GAAP net income more than doubled from last year to $2 billion, or $3.16 per share. Adjusted EPS fell 14% year-over-year to $1.28 but surpassed projections of $1.16.

Business performance

In Q4, Delta continued to see strong demand for leisure and business travel, with holiday travel volumes reaching a record. Corporate sales saw double-digit year-over-year growth in the month of December. In its earnings report, Delta stated that, based on results from a recent corporate survey, 93% of companies surveyed expect their travel volumes to increase sequentially or stay the same in the March quarter and into 2024.

Passenger revenue increased 12% YoY to $12.1 billion in the fourth quarter. Cargo revenue was down 24%. Delta is seeing strong demand for international travel, with international passenger revenue rising 25% in Q4 over last year.

Total revenue per available seat mile (TRASM) was down 8% in Q4 while capacity was up 15%. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) was down 3% and passenger load factor was 84%. CASM-ex was up 1.1% while average fuel price per gallon was $3.01, down 8% YoY.

Outlook

Delta sees strong travel demand in 2024. The company expects total revenue for the first quarter of 2024 to be up 3-6% YoY. EPS is expected to range between $0.25-0.50 for the quarter. Unit revenues for the March quarter are expected to be flat to down 3% over the prior-year period.

For the full year of 2024, Delta expects EPS to range between $6-7. This compares to the company’s earlier guidance given in its FY2022 report where it stated it was on track to achieve more than $7 of EPS in 2024.

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