Southwest Airlines Company (Dallas) reported its third quarter 2013 results:
- Record third quarter net income, excluding special items*, of $241 million, or $.34 per diluted share, compared to third quarter 2012 net income, excluding special items, of $97 million, or $.13 per diluted share. This was in line with the First Call consensus estimate of $.34 per diluted share.
- Record third quarter net income of $259 million, or $.37 per diluted share, which included $18 million (net) of favorable special items, compared to net income of $16 million, or $.02 per diluted share, in third quarter 2012, which included $81 million (net) of unfavorable special items.
- Return on invested capital* (before taxes and excluding special items) for the 12 months ended September 30, 2013, of 11 percent, as compared to 7 percent for the 12 months ended September 30, 2012.
- Cash and short-term investments at September 30, 2013, of $3.3 billion.
- Cash flow from operations of $428 million, and capital expenditures of $268 million, resulting in $160 million in free cash flow* in third quarter 2013.
- The Company returned approximately $178 million to Shareholders during third quarter 2013 through the payment of $28 million in dividends and the repurchase of approximately $150 million in common stock under an accelerated share repurchase program executed in September 2013. Since August 2011, the Company has repurchased approximately $1.1 billion, or approximately 111 million shares, under its $1.5 billion share repurchase authorization.
Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “We are very pleased to report a record third quarter earnings performance. Our People delivered very strong year-over-year earnings growth as we continued to transform our Company for the future. Our continued focus on strategic initiatives is paying off, and I am very proud of our outstanding Employees for a very solid third quarter financial performance.
“Third quarter revenues were also a third quarter record, with total operating revenues per available seat mile (unit revenues) increasing 4.5 percent year-over-year. Especially considering our increase in stage length and seat density, this is a very strong performance. Further, we continue to have a high number of markets under development as we convert AirTran routes into Southwest routes and optimize our combined networks. Finally, about 15 percent of our system is still operating under the AirTran brand. As the network stabilizes in the future, AirTran becomes fully converted, and fewer schedule changes are made, this should provide a further boost to unit revenues. While unit revenue trends were impacted by the recent government shutdown, current bookings for the combined November/December holiday period are strong.
“We are on track with our plan to fully integrate AirTran into Southwest Airlines by the end of next year, and we expect to achieve approximately $400 million in annual net pre-tax synergies in 2013. Our efforts to optimize our connected networks continued during third quarter, with the conversion of AirTran’s service at Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International Airport to Southwest. Southwest’s entrance to western Michigan doubled the service previously offered by AirTran, with a total of six daily nonstop departures to Baltimore/Washington, Orlando, St. Louis, and Denver. We will take another significant step towards full integration with our November 2013 schedule, as we reschedule AirTran’s Atlanta flights into a point-to-point operation.
“Our plan to add international capabilities for Southwest in 2014 is on track. We reached an exciting milestone last month with the ground breaking on Southwest’s first international terminal in our 43-year history. The five-gate facility at Houston’s William P. Hobby Airport, planned to open in 2015, will accommodate Southwest service to potential destinations in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.
“Our fleet modernization efforts are continuing as planned. During third quarter 2013, we placed one new Boeing 737-800 and two previously owned Boeing 737-700s into active service, and retired four Boeing 737-500 aircraft. In addition, we transitioned the first of AirTran’s 88 Boeing 717-200s out of the fleet, and removed 11 more from active service in preparation for transition. At the end of the third quarter, all Southwest Boeing 737-700s, 78 Boeing 737-300s, and 14 AirTran Boeing 737-700s converted to the Southwest livery had been retrofitted with the Evolve interior. Following a two percent year-over-year increase expected this year, our available seat miles are not expected to increase year-over-year in 2014. As we continue to execute our strategic initiatives, our priorities remain: optimize the network; run an excellent airline operation; provide outstanding and friendly Customer Service; and achieve and sustain our targeted financial returns.
“Our third quarter economic fuel costs declined 5.7 percent year-over-year driven by lower prices per gallon and less fuel consumed per available seat mile. We currently expect another significant year-over-year decrease in our fourth quarter 2013 economic fuel costs. Based on relatively stable current market prices and our existing fuel derivative contracts, as of October 21st, we expect our fourth quarter economic fuel price per gallon to be comparable to our third quarter 2013 economic fuel price per gallon.
“Excluding fuel, special items, and profitsharing, our unit costs increased slightly compared to third quarter last year, as expected. Based on current trends and ongoing benefits anticipated from our fleet modernization efforts, we expect our fourth quarter 2013 unit costs, excluding fuel, special items, and profitsharing, to be roughly flat versus a year ago.
“It is imperative that we preserve our financial health and return value to our stakeholders. Our balance sheet, liquidity, and cash flows are strong, and we are aggressively managing our debt and total invested capital. Our People are exceptional and they are working exceptionally hard. I am proud of them and these strong third quarter results.”
Awards and Recognitions
- Ranked first Value Airline Brand of the Year in the 2013 Harris Poll EquiTrend Rankings
- Named one of the Best Economy Class Flight Experience in 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest sponsored by USA TODAY
- Ranked fifth on the International Council on Clean Transportation list of the most fuel efficient domestic passenger airlines
The Company’s third quarter 2013 total operating revenues increased 5.5 percent to $4.5 billion, while operating unit revenues increased 4.5 percent, on a 1.0 percent increase in available seat miles and an approximately 4.0 percent increase in average seats per trip, all as compared to third quarter 2012. Total operating expenses in third quarter 2013 decreased 2.4 percent to $4.2 billion, as compared to third quarter 2012. The Company incurred costs (before taxes) associated with the acquisition and integration of AirTran, which are special items, of $28 million during third quarter 2013, compared to $145 million in third quarter 2012. Cumulative costs associated with the acquisition and integration of AirTran, as of September 30, 2013, totaled $391 million (before profitsharing and taxes). The Company expects total acquisition and integration costs to be no more than $550 million (before profitsharing and taxes). Excluding special items in both periods, total operating expenses of $4.1 billion in third quarter 2013 were comparable to third quarter 2012.
Third quarter 2013 economic fuel costs were $3.06 per gallon, including $.01 per gallon in favorable cash settlements from fuel derivative contracts, compared to $3.16 per gallon in third quarter 2012, including $.03 per gallon in unfavorable cash settlements from fuel derivative contracts. Based on the Company’s fuel derivative contracts and market prices as of October 21st, fourth quarter 2013 economic fuel costs are expected to be in the $3.05 to $3.10 per gallon range, which is significantly below fourth quarter 2012’s economic fuel costs of $3.32 per gallon. As of October 21st, the fair market value of the Company’s hedge portfolio through 2017 was a net asset of approximately $135 million. Additional information regarding the Company’s fuel derivative contracts is included in the accompanying tables.
Excluding economic fuel expense, special items, and profitsharing in both periods, third quarter 2013 operating costs increased 2.0 percent from third quarter 2012, and increased 1.0 percent on a unit basis.
Operating income for third quarter 2013 was $390 million, compared to $51 million in third quarter 2012. Excluding special items, operating income was $439 million in third quarter 2013, compared to $208 million in the same period last year.
Other income in third quarter 2013 was $29 million, compared to other expenses of $18 million in third quarter 2012. This $47 million swing primarily resulted from $59 million in other gains recognized in third quarter 2013, compared to other gains of $10 million recognized in third quarter 2012. In both periods, these gains primarily resulted from unrealized mark-to-market gains/losses associated with a portion of the Company’s fuel hedging portfolio, which are special items. Excluding these special items, third quarter 2013 had $19 million in other expense, compared to $18 million in third quarter 2012, primarily attributable to the premium costs associated with the Company’s fuel derivative contracts. Fourth quarter 2013 premium costs related to fuel derivative contracts are currently estimated to be approximately $22 million, compared to $3 million in fourth quarter 2012. Net interest expense in third quarter 2013 of $30 million was comparable to third quarter 2012.
For the nine months ended September 30, 2013, total operating revenues increased 2.8 percent to $13.3 billion, while total operating expenses of $12.4 billion were comparable to the same period last year. Operating income for the nine months ended September 30, 2013, was $893 million, compared to $532 million for the same period last year. Excluding special items in both periods, operating income was $1.0 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2013, compared to $702 million for the same period last year.
Net income for the nine months ended September 30, 2013, was $542 million, or $.75 per diluted share, compared to $343 million, or $.45 per diluted share, for the same period last year. Excluding special items, net income for the nine months ended September 30, 2013, was $569 million, or $.79 per diluted share, compared to $352 million, or $.46 per diluted share, for the same period last year.
As of October 23rd, the Company had approximately $3.6 billion in cash and short-term investments, and a fully available unsecured revolving credit line of $1 billion. Net cash provided by operations during third quarter 2013 was $428 million, and capital expenditures were $268 million. During third quarter 2013, the Company returned approximately $178 million to its Shareholders through the payment of $28 million in dividends and the repurchase of approximately $150 million in common stock under an accelerated share repurchase program with a third party financial institution. On September 6, 2013, pursuant to the accelerated share repurchase program, the Company advanced the $150 million to the financial institution and received approximately 11.5 million shares of the Company’s common stock. The specific number of shares that the Company ultimately will repurchase under the accelerated share repurchase program will be determined based generally on a discount to the volume-weighted average price per share of the Company’s common stock during a calculation period to be completed in fourth quarter 2013. At settlement, under certain circumstances, the third party financial institution may be required to deliver additional shares of common stock to the Company, or under certain circumstances, the Company may be required to deliver shares of its common stock or may elect to make a cash payment to the third party financial institution.
For the nine months ended September 30, 2013, net cash provided by operations was $2.2 billion, and capital expenditures were $995 million, resulting in free cash flow of approximately $1.2 billion. For the nine months ended September 30, 2013, the Company repurchased approximately $501 million in common stock, or approximately 38 million shares. Since August 2011, the Company has repurchased approximately $1.1 billion, or approximately 111 million shares, of common stock under its $1.5 billion share repurchase authorization. The Company repaid $267 million in debt and capital lease obligations during the nine months ended September 30, 2013, and intends to repay approximately $46 million more in debt and capital lease obligations during fourth quarter 2013.
Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Southwest Airlines’ Boeing 737-7H4 WL N781WN (msn 30601) “New Mexico One” arrives in Washington (Reagan National).