Delta’s outlook falls short of Wall Street estimates despite strong summer travel demand

  • Delta reported record revenue for the second quarter, but its net income fell 30%.
  • Delta reiterated its full-year adjusted earnings forecast of between $6 and $7 a share.
  • Airlines are facing higher costs and increased industry capacity that has pressured.
Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

Delta Air Lines on Thursday forecast record revenue for the third quarter thanks to booming summer travel demand, but its earnings forecast fell short of analysts’ estimates.

Shares of Delta fell about 7% in premarket trading.

Here’s how the company performed in the three months ended June 30, compared with Wall Street expectations based on consensus estimates from LSEG:

  • Adjusted earnings per share: $2.36 vs. $2.36 expected
  • Adjusted revenue: $15.41 billion vs. $15.45 billion expected

The Atlanta-based carrier on Thursday kicked off an airline earnings season marked by packed planes but profits under pressure as costs rise and increased capacity weighs on fares.

The carrier expects to grow its flying capacity 5% to 6% in the third quarter compared with last year, a slower clip than the 8% it expanded in the second quarter.

For the three months ended June 30, Delta brought in adjusted revenue of $15.4 billion, up 5.4% from last year and shy of Wall Street estimates. Net income dropped almost 30% from a year ago to $1.31 billion, or $2.01 a share, with operating expenses up 10% from last year. Adjusting for one-time items, Delta reported earnings of $1.53 billion, or $2.36 a share, in line with analysts’ estimates.

“The second quarter was a really strong performance,” CEO Ed Bastian said in an interview. “What you see happening is the impact in the domestic marketplace to the lower fare discounting that’s been going on this quarter.”

Bastian said lower industry capacity in the U.S. toward the end of the summer will better match up with demand. Delta said corporate travel continues to increase and that most customers expect to maintain or grow their corporate travel spending this quarter and after.

Revenue from international travel has been strong since the pandemic waned, though airlines have expanded schedules, meaning more competition for customers. Unit revenue for trans-Atlantic flights will take a 1-percentage point hit from the summer Olympics in Paris, Delta said. The impact is equal to about $100 million, Bastian told CNBC. The airline has more capacity to the French capital than rivals through its partnership with Air France.

In the current quarter, Delta expects to break more revenue records. It said it expects sales to rise as much as 4% and expects adjusted earnings per share of $1.70 to $2 a share, short of the $2.05 a share analysts polled by LSEG expected.

Despite the slightly lower-than-expected outlook, Delta is a standout in the airline industry. It’s the most profitable of the U.S. carriers, several of which are struggling to turn a profit. Rival United Airlines, which reports results next Wednesday is trying to catch up to Delta, and both carriers have been racing to add more premium seats. Analysts have the most “buy” ratings on Delta and United than any other U.S. airlines.

Delta reported growth in premium tickets, like those for first class, jumped 10% in the second quarter to $5.6 billion, while revenue from coach tickets rose 0.3% to about $6.7 billion. Its lucrative American Express credit card deal brought in $1.9 billion, up about 9% from last year.

Bastian said that Delta is “fairly well insulated” from industry overcapacity because it draws so much of its revenue from premium seats and other sources rather than standard coach tickets.

Delta reiterated its full-year earnings forecast of $6 to $7 a share and said it still expects to generate free cash flow of as much as $4 billion.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

This article was originally published here.