Airliner Earnings: What Can Investors Expect?

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We have entered the heart of the 2024 Q1 earnings cycle with a notably stacked earnings schedule on deck for this week. The period has primarily been positive so far, with the big banks’ results not causing any spooks.

This week, we’ll hear from American Airlines (AAL - Free Report) and Southwest Airlines (LUV - Free Report). What can investors expect? We can use results from a peer, United Airlines (UALFree Report), as a small read-through. Let’s take a closer look.

United Airlines

Concerning headline figures, UAL posted a 71% beat relative to the Zacks Consensus EPS estimate and reported sales modestly ahead of expectations, with both items well-higher than year-ago figures. Interestingly enough, the company would’ve posted a quarterly profit had it not experienced a $200 million impact from the Boeing 737 MAX 9 grounding.

Below is a chart illustrating the company’s revenue on a quarterly basis.

Zacks Investment Research

Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Consumers still have a strong interest in travel, with UAL’s capacity up 9.1% year-over-year. Lower fuel prices also aided profitability, with the $2.88 per gallon mark nicely beneath the $3.13 mark in the prior quarter.

The company reaffirmed its prior guidance, expecting full-year 2024 adjusted EPS in a band of $9 - $11. Shares popped following the release, with the market impressed by the results.

Zacks Investment Research

Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

American Airlines

Analysts have reversed their earnings estimate revisions, with the current -$0.28 Zacks Consensus EPS estimate up from -$0.32 at the end of March. Revenue revisions have remained positive for nearly all year, with the $12.6 billion expected modestly higher than the $12.5 billion expected at the end of January.

Zacks Investment Research

Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

It’s worth noting that the company has regularly exceeded our expectations in a big way as of late, beating our consensus EPS estimate by an average of 120% across its last four releases.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest’s earnings outlook hasn’t been as positive, with the -$0.31 Zacks Consensus EPS estimate down considerably from the -$0.19 mark in mid-March. Revenue revisions have been more bullish, as the $6.4 billion expected is up roughly 3%.

Zacks Investment Research

Image Source: Zacks Investment Research

Like AAL, the company has been on a solid earnings streak as of late, beating our consensus EPS expectations by an average of 52% across its last four releases.

Bottom Line

With several airliners – American Airlines and Southwest Airlines – on the reporting docket this week, using the recent results we’ve received from United Airlines can provide a framework of what to expect concerning consumer behavior.

UAL posted a solid quarterly release, with Capacity continuing to grow and lower fuel prices aiding results. Still, it's critical to note that the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX does not affect LUV or AAL, as the companies do not fly this particular craft. 


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