Alaska Air Group 3Q Profit Up 22 Percent

Alaska Air Group Inc. on Thursday said third-quarter profit swelled 22 percent on rising revenue at both its Alaska Airlines and Horizon Airlines, and the results beat Wall Street expectations.

Net income grew to $90.2 million, or $2.71 per share, from $74 million, or $2.29 per share, in the year-earlier period. Not counting the effect of fuel-hedge accounting adjustments and other items, income was $71.5 million, or $2.16 per share, versus $50.7 million, or $1.58 per share.

Revenue expanded to $845.7 million from $768.2 million in the 2004 quarter.

On average, analysts polled by Thomson Financial were looking for earnings excluding items of $2.12 per share on $823.3 million in revenue.

During the quarter, passenger traffic on Alaska Airlines rose 0.6 percent, even as capacity shrunk 3.2 percent. Operating revenue per available seat mile increased 12.4 percent. Load factor, or the percentage of seats filled, rose 3 percentage points from a year ago to 79 percent.

Horizon Air's traffic jumped nearly 13.6 percent on a 9.8 percent gain in capacity. Horizon's operating revenue per available seat mile edged up half a percent, and load factor rose 2.6 percentage points to 75 percent.

Shares of Alaska Air Group rose 77 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $30.27 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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