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Alaska Air Group Reports Record Adjusted Full-Year Results

Fourth quarter and full-year highlights with comparison to 2010:

•Fourth quarter net income, excluding special items, of $37.2 million, or $1.02 per diluted share, compared to net income of $47.4 million, or $1.28 per diluted share. This quarter's results compare to a First Call mean estimate of $1.14 per share.

•Record full-year net income, excluding special items, of $287.4 million, or $7.83 per diluted share, compared to $262.6 million, or $7.14 per diluted share.

•Net income for the fourth quarter under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) of $64.0 million, or $1.76 per diluted share, compared to net income of $64.8 million, or $1.75 per diluted share. Full-year GAAP net income of $244.5 million, or $6.66 per diluted share, compared to net income of $251.1 million, or $6.83 per diluted share.

•Alaska Airlines held the No. 1 spot in U.S. Department of Transportation on-time performance among the 10 largest U.S. airlines for the twelve months ended November 2011.

•Air Group employees earned $72 million in incentive pay, or nearly one month's pay for most employees.

•Contributed $133 million to the defined-benefit pension plans during 2011, despite having no required contribution.

•Improved employee productivity by 2.7 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2010.

•Alaska Airlines signed a five-year agreement with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) representing aircraft technicians in December.

•Redesigned alaskaair.com to establish more direct customer relationships, leading to a December record of more than 55 percent of total bookings.

•Completed the current $50 million share repurchase program in early January 2012. Since 2007, Air Group has used $262 million to repurchase 8.4 million shares.

•Twelve-month return on invested capital of 12 percent.

•Lowered adjusted debt-to-total capitalization ratio by 5 points since Dec. 31, 2010 to 62 percent.

•Held $1.1 billion in unrestricted cash and marketable securities as of Dec. 31, 2011.

Over the last twelve months, Alaska earned recognition for the following:

•Awarded 2011 On-Time Performance Service Award among major North American airlines by FlightStats.com.

•Ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers" in 2011 by J.D. Power and Associates for the fourth year in a row.

•Received the Joseph S. Murphy Industry Service Award for outstanding public and community service by Air Transport World magazine, the first North America carrier to win the industry service award.

•Won Seattle Business Magazine's 2011 Green Award in the Large Services company category.

SEATTLE — Alaska Air Group Inc. (NYSE: ALK) today reported fourth quarter 2011 GAAP net income of $64.0 million, or $1.76 per diluted share, compared to GAAP net income of $64.8 million, or $1.75 per diluted share in 2010. Excluding mark-to-market fuel hedge gains of $43.1 million ($26.8 million after tax, or $0.74 per diluted share), the company reported fourth quarter 2011 net income of $37.2 million, or $1.02 per diluted share, compared to net income excluding special items of $47.4 million, or $1.28 per diluted share, in 2010.

The company reported full-year 2011 GAAP net income of $244.5 million, compared to $251.1 million in the prior year. Excluding the impact of the items noted in the table below, the company reported record net income of $287.4 million, or $7.83 per diluted share for 2011, compared to net income of $262.6 million, or $7.14 per diluted share in 2010. This marks the company's eighth consecutive year of adjusted profits.

"We are pleased to report record adjusted earnings for the second year in a row," said Bill Ayer, chairman and chief executive officer. "The improvement was due to schedule optimization and network expansion, high load factors, lower non-fuel unit costs, and industry-leading customer service and operational performance. I want to thank our employees who are working hard together to accomplish these results. We have made many changes over the past decade to transform our business and build a foundation for sustained profitability and measured growth, and we will continue to make the necessary changes as we move forward."

The following table reconciles the company's adjusted net income and earnings per diluted share (EPS) during the full year and fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010 to amounts as reported in accordance with GAAP:
 

 

 

Three Months Ended December 31,

 

 

2011

 

2010

 

(in millions, except per share amounts)

Dollars

 

Diluted EPS

 

Dollars

 

Diluted EPS

Net income and diluted EPS, excluding the items noted below:
Mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments, net of tax

$37.2

26.8

 

$1.02

0.74

 

$47.4

17.4

 

$1.28

0.47

Reported GAAP amounts

$64.0

 

$1.76

 

$64.8

 

$1.75

     

 

 

Twelve Months Ended December 31,

 

 

2011

 

2010

 

(in millions, except per share amounts)

Dollars

 

Diluted EPS

 

Dollars

 

Diluted EPS

Net income and diluted EPS, excluding the items noted below:

Fleet transition costs, net of tax

Mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments, net of tax


$287.4

(24.2)


(18.7)
 

 


$7.83

(0.66)


(0.51)
 

 


$262.6

(8.2)


(3.3)

 


$7.14

(0.22)


(0.09)

Reported GAAP amounts

$244.5

 

$6.66

 

$251.1

 

$6.83



Statistical data, as well as a reconciliation of the reported non-GAAP financial measures, can be found in the accompanying tables. A glossary of financial terms can be found on page 13 of this release.

A conference call regarding the fourth quarter and full year results will be simulcast via the Internet at 8:30 a.m. Pacific time on Jan. 26, 2012. It can be accessed through the company's Website at alaskaair.com/investors. For those unable to listen to the live broadcast, a replay will be available after the conclusion of the call at alaskaair.com/investors.

References in this news release to "Air Group," "company," "we," "us" and "our" refer to Alaska Air Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries, unless otherwise specified. Alaska Airlines, Inc. and Horizon Air Industries, Inc. are referred to as "Alaska" and "Horizon," respectively, and together as our "airlines."

This news release may contain forward-looking statements subject to the safe harbor protection provided by Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements relate to future events and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause actual outcomes to be materially different from those indicated by any forward-looking statements. For a comprehensive discussion of potential risk factors, see Item 1A of the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended Dec. 31, 2010. Some of these risks include general economic conditions, increases in operating costs including fuel, competition, labor costs and relations, our significant indebtedness, inability to meet cost reduction goals, seasonal fluctuations in our financial results, an aircraft accident, and changes in laws and regulations. All of the forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to the risk factors discussed therein. We operate in a continually changing business environment, and new risk factors emerge from time to time. Management cannot predict such new risk factors, nor can it assess the impact, if any, of such new risk factors on our business or events described in any forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements after the date of this report to conform them to actual results. Over time, our actual results, performance or achievements will likely differ from the anticipated results, performance or achievements that are expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements, and such differences might be significant and materially adverse.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK), together serve more than 90 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. Alaska Airlines ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Network Carriers" in the J.D. Power and Associates 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 North America Airline Satisfaction StudiesSM. For reservations, visit alaskaair.com. For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Newsroom at alaskaair.com/newsroom.


View Fourth Quarter Financial Results

Glossary of Terms

Mainline - represents flying on Alaska jets and all associated revenues and costs

Regional - represents operations whereby Horizon, SkyWest, and another small carrier in the state of Alaska fly certain routes for Alaska using Horizon's or the other carrier's fleets

RPMs - revenue passenger miles, or "traffic"; represents the number of seats that were filled with paying passengers; one passenger traveling one mile is one RPM

ASMs - available seat miles, or "capacity"; represents total seats available across the fleet multiplied by the number of miles flown

Load Factor - RPMs as a percentage of ASMs; represents the number of available seats that were filled with paying passengers

Yield - passenger revenue per RPM; represents the average revenue for flying one passenger one mile

PRASM - passenger revenue per ASM; commonly called "passenger unit revenue"

RASM - operating revenue per ASMs, or "unit revenue"; operating revenue includes all passenger revenue, freight & mail, Mileage Plan, and other ancillary revenue; represents the average total revenue for flying one seat one mile

CASM - operating costs per ASM, or "unit cost"; represents all operating expenses including fuel and special items

CASMex - operating costs excluding fuel and special items per ASM; this metric is used to help track progress toward reduction of non-fuel operating costs since fuel is largely out of our control

Economic fuel - best estimate of the cash cost of fuel, net of the impact of our fuel-hedging program

Aircraft Utilization - block hours per day; this represents the average number of hours our aircraft are flying

Aircraft Stage Length - represents the average miles flown per aircraft departure

Diluted Earnings per Share - represents earnings per share using fully diluted shares outstanding

Diluted Shares - represents the total number of shares that would be outstanding if all possible sources of conversion, such as stock options, were exercised

Productivity - number of revenue passengers per full-time equivalent employee

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