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There are 'encouraging signs' from Singapore Airlines' earnings, analyst says

Key Points
  • One analyst said Singapore Airlines' earnings showed "encouraging signs."
  • Singapore Airlines reported third-quarter earnings that came in above expectations despite a 27 percent drop in net profit as to the year-ago period.
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There are 'encouraging signs' in SIA, analyst says

The most recent earnings report from Singapore Airlines showed "encouraging signs," according to one analyst who spoke to CNBC.

Those comments came after Singapore Airlines, also known as SIA, reported third-quarter earnings on Thursday that came in above expectations despite a 27 percent drop in net profit compared to the year-ago period.

Singapore Airlines made 284 million Singapore dollars (approximately $209 million) in the three months that ended on Dec. 31, down from S$389 million a year-earlier, which was restated to reflect accounting changes. That was above the $240.2 million Singapore dollars (about $176.7 million) expected by three analysts in estimates obtained by Reuters and Refinitiv.

Yields for the Singapore carrier as well as other regional airlines have been "going down for a few years quite consistently," but Singapore Airlines' namesake carrier has resumed growth over the last three to six months, Brendan Sobie, chief analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday.

"The trend does seem to be bottoming out, which is a very encouraging trend for SIA," Sobie said. "5 percent growth, which is not much. But it's, you know, a lot better than zero, which they've basically been at for the last few years."

"I think the results were largely in line with our expectations," Paul Yong, senior vice president of equity research at Singaporean bank DBS, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Friday. The bank has a buy rating on Singapore Airlines' stock, with a target price of 11 Singapore dollars per share.

A Singapore Airlines 777 plane prepares to land at Changi International airport in Singapore on April 8, 2016.
Roslan Rahman | AFP | Getty Images

Shares of Singapore Airlines traded slightly lower as of Friday afternoon trade, hovering around S$9.80.

The "key highlight" from the results, according to Yong, was that Singapore Airlines' namesake carrier managed to post a 1 percent marginal improvement in its earnings before interest and tax contribution despite oil prices being 15 percent higher on average.

Elaborating on the high cost of fuel, which is an important component of operating costs for airliners, Yong said Singapore Airlines managed to "deal with a part of it."

"They did partially offset it with some hedging and they did partially offset it with some revenue improvement — but not all of it," the DBS analyst said.

Because the price of jet fuel has "come off quite significantly" in the past two to three months, Yong said DBS expects Singapore Airlines to post a year-on-year improvement in its fourth-quarter earnings.

"In the year ahead, we are reiterating our buy call because we do believe that lower fuel costs will help to uplift earnings for SIA over the next 12 months," he said.

— Reuters contributed to this report.