Airline stocks mixed, reflecting earnings


DALLAS -- Airline stocks were mixed on Thursday, with shares of low-cost carriers rising while their old-line brethren slipped lower.

The performance matched the mixed bag of earnings results, as JetBlue _ a young airline with lower costs _ reported higher profit than a year ago, while industry giant United eked out only a slender gain.

United Continental Holdings Inc.'s profit tumbled to $6 million after earning $653 million in the same quarter last year, and the results fell short of Wall Street's expectations. United, the world's biggest airline, was buffeted by a drop in traffic that some blame on passenger frustration with a balky reservations system and late flights.

United Continental shares fell $1.02, or 4 percent, to $19.25. Shares of two other big, so-called legacy carriers also dropped _ Delta Air Lines Inc. lost 43 cents, or 4.3 percent, to $9.61; and US Airways Group Inc. was down 45 cents, or 3.7 percent, at $11.92.

Shares of JetBlue Airways Corp. avoided the downdraft, although rose just 2 cents to $5.22 by afternoon. JetBlue said Thursday that third-quarter net income rose 29 percent on higher traffic from expansion in Boston and the Caribbean.

Southwest Airlines Co. shares were up 9 cents to $8.84. Shares of two low-fare, high-fee airlines also gained, as Spirit Airlines Inc. rose 22 cents to $17.40; and Allegiant Travel Co. gained $2.33, or 3.4 percent, to $70.97.

Alaska Airlines parent Alaska Air Group Inc. was down 28 cents at $38.07. The carrier, which operates mostly on the West Coast, more than doubled its third-quarter net income to $163 million as traffic grew and fewer seats went empty.