US Airways profit tops estimates on passenger demand

, Bloomberg

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US Airways Group Inc., the carrier pushing for a merger with bankrupt American Airlines, reported fourth-quarter profit higher than analysts estimated on strong travel demand and record revenue.

Earnings excluding one-time items more than doubled to $46 million, or 26 cents a share, from $21 million, or 13 cents, on that basis a year earlier, the Tempe, Arizona-based airline said in a statement Wednesday. That exceeded the 19-cent average of analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

US Airways recorded its seventh consecutive quarterly net profit as passenger traffic rose 2.7 percent and unit revenue, a measure of fares and seats, increased 2.5 percent. The airline may know soon if it will succeed in engineering a friendly combination with AMR Corp.'s American as bankruptcy creditors complete their review of options.

"We enter 2013 with great momentum and enthusiasm and are well positioned for whatever may lie ahead," chief executive officer Doug Parker said in the statement.

Superstorm Sandy reduced results by $35 million, the company said. Sales rose 3.9 percent to a record $3.28 billion, matching an average estimate from 11 analysts. The carrier ended the quarter with $2.7 billion in cash and investments, with $336 million of that reserved for specific purposes.

Including $9 million in costs linked to corporate transactions and auction-rate securities auctions, net income rose to $37 million, or 22 cents, from $18 million, or 11 cents, a year earlier. The stock more than doubled last year.

American last week reported that its fourth-quarter loss excluding bankruptcy-related items narrowed to $88 million. Delta Air Lines Inc. Tuesday reported quarterly profit of $238 million, excluding costs primarily related to restructuring its fleet and refinancing some debt.

Full-year profit rose to a record $537 million, or $2.79 a share, excluding special items, US Airways said.

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