Southwest Profit Rises on Revenue Growth

By Dow Jones Business News, 
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Southwest Airlines Co. ( LUV ) said its fourth-quarter profit surged as the carrier benefited from higher revenue and lower fuel costs.

Southwest has been moving away from its roots as a pioneer discount airline and seeking to bolster its service area beyond the 48 contiguous U.S. states.

The company said its passenger revenue per available seat mile, a key performance metric for the airline industry, rose 4.2% in the latest quarter.

Southwest reported income of $212 million, or 30 cents a share, up from $78 million, or 11 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding items, earnings rose to 33 cents a share from nine cents a share.

Operating revenue increased 6.1% to $4.43 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast a profit of 29 cents a share on revenue of $4.39 billion.

Fuel and oil costs fell 9.2% to $1.37 billion, as fuel costs per-gallon dropped 8.1% to $3.05. Total operating expenses fell 1% to $4.04 billion.

Earlier this month, Southwest said its passenger traffic rose 3.3% in the fourth quarter and capacity grew 2.2%. Load factor, or the percentage of available seats filled, rose to 80.4%, up from 79.6% a year ago.

Shares closed Wednesday at $21.77 and were up 2.3% premarket. The stock is up 33% in the past three months.

Write to Ben Fox Rubin at ben.rubin@wsj.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires


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