Earnings Preview: Delta Air Lines nears 52-week high ahead of Q4 report


Delta Air Lines (DAL) is expected to report Q4 earnings on Tuesday, January 22 before the market open with a conference call scheduled for 10:00 am ET. Delta Air Lines is a global provider of air transportation for passengers and cargo... EXPECTATIONS: Analysts are looking for EPS of 28c on revenue of $8.58B, according to First Call. The consensus range for EPS is 26c-31c on revenue of $8.49B-$8.81B... LAST QUARTER: Delta reported Q3 EPS of 90c against estimates for 91c on revenue of $9.92B against estimates for $9.97B. During its Q3 earnings call, the company said costs had increased faster than expected. On December 11, Delta announced a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic, acquiring a 49% stake in the company for $360M. CEO Richard Anderson said, "there's no more important market than the U.S.-Heathrow market." On December 12 during its Investor Day, Anderson forecast a $1.6B profit for the year and said he expects 2013 to be "a really solid improvement" over 2012. Net profit in Q4 was seen at $200M-$250M with operating margin of 5%-6%, passenger unit revenue up 3%-4% and system capacity down 1%-2%. STREET RESEARCH: Street research has been mostly positive in the weeks leading up to Delta's Q4 earnings report. Negative sentiment came on October 26 when Imperial Capital lowered its price target on Delta to $19 from $24, and on December 11, when Deutsche Bank removed it from their short term buy list. PRICE ACTION: Delta shares dipped modestly following the company's Q3 report. However, since mid-November, the stock has been on a tear, gaining about 44% and making a fresh 52-week high of $14.11 in the process. In morning trading ahead of Tuesday's Q4 report, Delta’s shares are down over 1% to $13.64.

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