American Airlines' profits narrowly top expectations after storms

Key Points
  • American Airlines posted third-quarter earnings that beat Street estimates.
  • Hurricanes forced the airline to cancel some about 8,000 flights.
  • Fuel and other costs rose in the quarter.
An American Airlines 737-800 aircraft.
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American Airlines, the largest U.S. airline, weathered three major hurricanes in the third quarter to post profits that narrowly beat analysts' expectations.

Expectations vs. results

  • Adjusted EPS: $1.42 vs. $1.40 expected in a Thomson Reuters survey of analysts.
  • Revenue: $10.88 billion, in line with estimates.

The airline, like its competitors, faced climbing fuel costs and an onslaught of powerful storms that hit some of its key airports, including its Miami hub.

The airline said it canceled some 8,000 flights due to the storms and estimates that storm-related costs will run about $75 million in pretax earnings.

American said its revenue per each seat it flies one mile, a key industry metric, grew 1.1 percent in the three months ended in Sept. 30.

American said that metric should improve further in the fourth quarter from the same period a year ago, growing 2.5 percent to 4.5 percent on an increase in leisure and business travel demand.

American's shares were down 1 percent in morning trade Thursday.

The airline said net income of $624 million was down more than 15 percent from the third quarter of 2016, as costs rose, while its reported revenue of nearly $10.9 billion was in line with estimates. On an adjusted basis, its American posted per share earnings of $1.42, just above the $1.40 Wall Street forecast.

During an earnings call later Thursday, executives will likely address the rollout of the airline's no-frills basic economy product, which in exchange for giving up certain perks like seat selection gives passengers a lower fare. Analysts may also ask how stricter U.S. security measures on U.S.-bound flights that went into effect Thursday will affect its passengers as well as those on its many international partner airlines.