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Delta reports adjusted earnings of $1 billion in the second quarter, up 22%, expects capacity to decrease 3% in the 3Q

Delta Air Lines (Atlanta) today reported its best second quarter financial results in its history:

Delta Air Lines today reported financial results for the second quarter (June) 2015 quarter, including adjusted net income of $1.0 billion or $1.27 per diluted share, up 22% from the same quarter in 2014.

“Delta’s record results have allowed the company to invest in its employees through higher wage rates and profit sharing; improve the experience for our customers through new aircraft and innovative partnerships with global carriers; and uniquely deliver value for our shareholders by accelerating our capital returns while also paying down debt,” said Richard Anderson, Delta’s chief executive officer. “We have more work and opportunity ahead of us on all of these fronts as we continue to execute on our long-term plan.”

Anderson continued, “Our significant fuel savings in the September quarter should allow us to produce another record quarter with more than 30% EPS growth, a 19-21% operating margin and $1.9 billion of operating cash flow.”

Delta 2Q Graph

Revenue Environment

Delta’s operating revenue for the June quarter increased 1%, despite $160 million in foreign currency pressures which reduced unit revenues by approximately 2 points. Passenger unit revenues declined 4.6% on a 3.9% decline in yields.

Delta saw solid progress with several of its revenue initiatives, including Branded Fares, which increased passenger revenues by $56 million, and its enhanced agreement with American Express, which produced an incremental $60 million in revenue.

“Our commercial initiatives continue to gain traction in the marketplace and we will produce summer margins in excess of any achieved in our history,” said Ed Bastian, Delta’s president. “However, unit revenue growth is an important component of our long-term plan to expand margins. We continue to project flat system capacity growth for the fourth quarter of 2015 – a level in line with current demand expectations, which should put the business on the right trajectory to stem the erosion in unit revenues by the end of the year.”

Investment Strengthens Partnership and Expands Global Reach

Strengthening its existing partnership with Gol, Delta recently agreed to purchase up to $56 million in preferred shares as part of a larger rights offering by the Brazilian carrier. In addition to the equity, Delta will guarantee up to $300 million in borrowings by Gol under a term loan with third-party lenders. Delta’s guarantee will be secured by Gol’s interest in SMILES, Gol’s publicly-traded loyalty program. Delta and Gol have also agreed to extend their exclusive commercial agreement for flights between the United States and Brazil, the largest aviation market in Latin America. This transaction is subject to normal closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

Cost Performance

Adjusted fuel expense2 declined over $463 million compared to the same period in 2014, as 39% lower market fuel prices and a $77 million increase in profit at the refinery offset nearly $600 million in settled hedge losses. For the remainder of 2015, Delta expects its fuel expense to be $1.90 – $2.00 per gallon, a significant reduction to the $2.65 per gallon it realized in the first six months of the year.

CASM-Ex3 decreased 0.8% for the June quarter on a year-over-year basis, with foreign exchange and the benefits of Delta’s domestic refleeting and other cost initiatives offsetting the company’s investments in its employees, products and operations. This marks the eighth consecutive quarter of CASM growth below 2%, in line with the company’s long-term goals.

Delta’s debt reduction initiative continued to improve the company’s interest expense, producing $46 million in interest savings for the quarter compared to the same period in 2014.

“Because of the momentum we’ve built with our cost reduction initiatives, we expect to post our ninth consecutive quarter of sub-2% unit cost growth in September,” said Paul Jacobson, Delta’s chief financial officer. “Cost efficiency has contributed to the record results that allowed us to return $1 billion to shareholders in the June quarter while investing in our employees and customer experience.”

Cash Flow, Shareholder Returns, and Adjusted Net Debt

Delta generated $2.5 billion of adjusted operating cash flow and $1.6 billion of free cash flow during the quarter. The company used this strong cash generation to reinvest nearly $1 billion back into the business, primarily for aircraft purchases. The company returned $1.0 billion to its owners through $72 million of dividends and $925 million of share repurchases, while also strengthening its balance sheet by reducing its adjusted net debt to $7.1 billion.

September 2015 Quarter Guidance

Following are Delta’s projections for the September 2015 quarter:

3Q15 Forecast

Unit Revenue (compared to 3Q14)

(4.5%) – (6.5%)

Operating margin

19% – 21%

Fuel price, including taxes, settled hedges and refinery impact

$1.90-$1.95

CASM – Ex (compared to 3Q14)

Flat

System capacity (compared to 3Q14)

~3%

Special Items

Special items, net of taxes, in the June 2015 quarter totaled $458 million, including:

$454 million for mark-to-market adjustments and settlements on fuel hedges;

a $16 million charge for fleet and other items, primarily associated with Delta’s domestic fleet restructuring initiative; and

$20 million for mark-to-market adjustments on hedges owned by Virgin Atlantic.
Special items, net of taxes, in the June 2014 quarter totaled $88 million, including:

a $69 million charge for debt extinguishment associated with Delta’s debt reduction initiative; and

a $20 million charge associated with Delta’s domestic fleet restructuring.

Top Copyright Photo: Fred Freketic/AirlinersGallery.com. Delta has been introducing the former AirTran Airways Boeing 717s around the country including the West Coast. Boeing 717-2BD N966AT (msn 55027) departs from the New York (JFK) hub. All 717s are leased from Southwest Airlines.

Delta Air Lines aircraft slide show (current livery):

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