PURCHASE, N.Y. (AP) -- Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc. on Thursday reported first-quarter earnings that easily beat analysts' expectations as demand rose for planes to handle an increase in commercial airfreight deliveries.
The company, which operates flights for cargo carriers, charters and the U.S. military, said it expected growth in the second half of the year in part because of its Boeing 747-8F aircraft, a new model of the jumbo jet designed for carrying cargo.
Atlas stood by its forecast for 2012 earnings of more than $5.10 per share, above analysts' prediction of $5.06, according to a FactSet poll.
Shares jumped by $4.91, or 10.5 percent, to $51.91 in midday trading.
Atlas said first-quarter net income was $12.8 million, or 48 cents per share, compared with $10.5 million, or 40 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.
Excluding employee and other costs related to retiring its fleet of Boeing 747-200 aircraft, Atlas would have earned 51 cents per share.
Revenue rose to $359.3 million from $297.6 million a year ago.
Analysts, who usually exclude items from profit forecasts, expected the company to earn 15 cents per share 341.4 million
The company said the higher profit was mostly due to a big increase in commercial airfreight business in March, with higher volumes and rates than in January and February. The company said customers needed planes to handle an increase in demand for airfreight capacity, especially out of Asia, for new high-tech products, pharmaceuticals, auto parts and other goods.
Atlas, based in Purchase, N.Y., also said Thursday that it won a contract to provide a Boeing 747-400 freighter jet to the cargo division of Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates. Financial terms were not announced.
The multiyear agreement begins in June and includes the plane, crew, maintenance and insurance.