Delta Air Lines Plans Capacity Reduction Due to Brexit

July 14, 2016 by Paul Ausick

Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) reported second-quarter 2016 results before markets opened Thursday. The airline reported adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.47 on revenues of $10.45 billion. In the same period a year ago, Delta reported EPS of $1.27 on revenues of $10.71 billion. Second-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $1.42 on revenues of $10.49 billion.

On a GAAP basis, Delta’s EPS for the quarter totaled $2.03 and includes $77 million in lower tax payments. Other adjustments were also lower this year. GAAP EPS in the second quarter of last year totaled $1.83.

Adjusted to include mark-to-market impacts, fuel cost averaged $1.97 a gallon, a drop of $0.43 a gallon year over year but up by $0.61 per gallon sequentially. Delta did not report revenues or income separately for its refinery operations, but other revenues were down 4% year over year.

Operating revenues declined by 2% year over year. Mainline revenues rose 0.2%, but on a passenger unit basis mainline revenues were down 5.2%. Total passenger revenues dropped 2% and total passenger unit revenues fell 4.9%.

Delta President Glen Hauenstein said:

While the revenue environment remains challenging, with persistent headwinds from close-in domestic yields and geopolitical uncertainty, we remain focused on achieving our goal of positive unit revenues by year end. We’ll continue to move quickly and aggressively with all our commercial levers, including an incremental 1 point reduction in our December quarter capacity levels, to make sure we create the momentum we need to achieve this goal.

That capacity reduction appears to be the result of the Brexit vote. Delta is reducing its U.S.-to-U.K. capacity by six percentage points on its winter schedule, which will reduce its systemwide capacity by a full percentage point.

For the third quarter, the airline forecasts operating margin of 19% to 21%, passenger unit revenue down 4% to 6%, fuel prices in a range of $1.52 to $1.57 per gallon and costs per available seat mile approximately flat with the second-quarter total of 9.54 cents.

Beginning in the third quarter, Delta is raising its annual dividend from $0.54 per share to $0.81 per share. In the second quarter the company paid $103 million in dividends and repurchased $1 billion in stock.

Shares traded up about 0.5% at $39.75 in Thursday’s premarket. The stock’s 52-week range is $32.61 to $52.77. Prior to Thursday’s release Thomson/Reuters had a consensus price target of $55.46 on the company’s shares.