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Delta shares climb after earnings beat the Street

  • Delta quarterly earnings per share of 77 cents a share, ex-items, beat by 2 cents, but down sharply from last year.
  • Revenue of $9.15 billion missed the estimate of $9.19 billion.
  • Passenger unit revenue expected to rise 1 to 3 percent in the second quarter.
Delta Airlines Boeing 737 taking off from LAX in Los Angeles, California.
FG | Bauer-Griffin | GC Images
Delta Airlines Boeing 737 taking off from LAX in Los Angeles, California.

Shares of Delta Air Lines rose Wednesday after reporting first quarter earnings that topped estimates.

The airline reported earnings of 77 cents a share, ex-items, beating the 75 cent consensus estimate from a Thomson Reuters poll.

Delta also said its closely followed metric of passenger unit revenue fell 0.5 percent year on year, but should rise 1 to 3 percent in the current quarter.

Shares rose almost 2 percent in morning trade, trimming year-to-date losses to about 6 percent.

Delta Air Lines year-to-date performance

Year over year, however, Delta's unadjusted net income dropped 36.3 percent.

Quarterly revenue of $9.15 billion missed the estimate of $9.19 billion and also fell 36 percent from the same period last year.

"We expect the entirety of our 2017 margin pressure to have occurred in the March quarter from higher fuel prices," chief financial officer Paul Jacobson said in a release.

"With an improving revenue profile and further improvement as our cost growth moderates in the second half, we are on track to expand margins for the balance of the year."

Airlines are particularly in focus this week given outrage over how United Airlines handled the removal of a passenger due to overbooking. Citing government data, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Delta was the most generous airline in compensating customers for lack of seats last year, despite having the highest rate of overbooked spots.

United and other airline shares gained following Delta's results.