Alaska Air Posts Smaller 4Q Loss

Alaska Air Group Inc., parent of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, on Thursday posted a smaller fourth quarter loss as increased traffic and fuel hedging helped offset restructuring and other costs.

The company narrowed its loss to $33 million, or $1.15 per share, from $44.9 million, or $1.66 per share, the year before.

Alaska's hedging strategy, in which it locks in jet-fuel prices months in advance to protect it from price spikes, saved the company $27.4 million in the quarter. An accounting treatment related to hedges that settle at a future date resulted in a noncash charge of $47.1 million. Excluding costs from hedge accounting adjustments and restructuring, the company earned $600,000, or 2 cents per share, in the latest quarter.

On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for Alaska to post income of 4 cents per share.

Revenue totaled $730.6 million, an 11 percent jump from $656.3 million a year earlier and beating the consensus target of $720.9 million.

Last quarter, Alaska Airlines' passenger traffic grew 3.2 percent on a 1.9 percent capacity expansion, while overall occupancy added 1 percentage point to 73.9 percent, the company said.

At Horizon Air, quarterly passenger traffic was up 11.1 percent, as capacity grew 8.2 percent. Plane occupancy was 2 percentage points higher at 73.7 percent.

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