Airline stocks rise after Delta revenue surprise

Delta's December revenue surprise boosts airline sector

Associated Press

Airline stocks rose Friday, led higher by Delta Air Lines after it reported better-than-expected December revenue.

Delta also said its fuel price for the month was cheaper than it had forecast, by 3 cents per gallon.

After the announcement by Delta, S&P Capital IQ raised its rating on Delta to "Strong Buy" from "Buy," raised its estimates for 2013 and 2014 profits, and raised its price target for Delta to $40, from $30. Analyst Jim Corridore wrote that he thinks Delta is likely to continue to be able to take in more per-seat revenue than other airlines.

In afternoon trading, Delta Air Lines Inc. was up $1.45, or 5.5 percent, to $29.15.

United Continental Holdings Inc. rose $1.93, or 4.8 percent, to $39.66. American Airlines Group Inc., which now also includes US Airways, rose $1.24, or 4.9 percent, to $26.60. Southwest Airlines Co. rose 43 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $19.31.

Smaller airlines were also higher. JetBlue Airways Corp. rose 45 cents, or 5.3 percent, to $9.06, and Alaska Air Group Inc. rose $1.56, or 2.2 percent, to $74.74. Spirit Airlines Inc. was up $1.59, or 3.2 percent, to $47.24.

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