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Alaska Air Group reports First Quarter 2019 results

SEATTLE, April 25, 2019 /PRNewswire/ --

Financial Highlights:

  • Reported net income under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) of $4 million, or $0.03 per diluted share for the first quarter of 2019 and 2018.
  • Reported net income for the first quarter of 2019, excluding special items such as merger-related costs and mark-to-market fuel hedge accounting adjustments, of $21 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, compared to $18 million or $0.14 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2018. This quarter's adjusted results compare to the First Call analyst consensus estimate of $0.12 per share.
  • Paid a $0.35 per-share quarterly cash dividend in the first quarter, a 9% increase over the dividend paid in the first quarter of 2018.
  • Repurchased a total of 214,891 shares of common stock for approximately $13 million in the first three months of 2019.
  • Generated approximately $470 million of operating cash flow in the first three months of 2019, including merger-related costs.
  • Held $1.4 billion in unrestricted cash and marketable securities as of March 31, 2019.
  • Maintained debt-to-capitalization ratio of 47% as of March 31, 2019, similar to the 47% as of Dec. 31, 2018.

Operational Highlights:

  • Launched commercial service from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, to eight West Coast destinations and began service from Seattle to Columbus, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas.
  • Completed painting 25 Airbus aircraft in Alaska livery, and expect to complete the remainder of the fleet in the second quarter.
  • Announced plans to build a new Alaska Lounge in Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport.
  • Introduced a new Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card sign-up promotion offering up to 40,000 miles to new cardholders.
  • Added four Boeing 737-900ER aircraft to the mainline operating fleet in the first quarter of 2019.

Recognition and Awards:

  • Ranked the best U.S. Airline by Money Magazine for the second year in a row.
  • Named "Best Mid-Size Airline" by TripAdvisor in their 2019 Travelers Choice awards.
  • Ranked as the No. 2 Airline in America by The Points Guy.

Alaska Air Group Inc., today reported first quarter 2019 GAAP net income of $4 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, compared to $4 million, or $0.03 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2018. Excluding the impact of merger-related costs and mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments, the company reported adjusted net income of $21 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, compared to $18 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, in 2018.

"We performed well in the first quarter despite severe winter storms in the Pacific Northwest," said Alaska CEO Brad Tilden. "The leadership team and I want to thank our employees for running the operation safely, and as smoothly as possible, and for taking great care of our guests throughout the quarter. Our margin improvement initiatives gained traction despite the storms, and we are optimistic about the rest of 2019."

The following table reconciles the company's reported GAAP net income and earnings per diluted share (diluted EPS) for the three months ended March 31, 2019 and 2018 to adjusted amounts.


Three Months Ended March 31,


2019


2018

(in millions, except per-share amounts)

Dollars


Diluted EPS


Dollars


Diluted EPS

GAAP net income and diluted EPS

$

4



$

0.03



$

4



$

0.03


Mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments

(4)



(0.03)



(13)



(0.11)


Special items - merger-related costs

26



0.21



6



0.05


Special items - other





25



0.20


Income tax effect of reconciling items above

(5)



(0.04)



(4)



(0.03)


Non-GAAP adjusted net income and diluted EPS

$

21



$

0.17



$

18



$

0.14


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 the last page of this release.

A conference call regarding the first quarter results will be streamed online at 1:30 p.m. Pacific time on April 25, 2019. It can be accessed at www.alaskaair.com/investor. For those unable to listen to the live broadcast, a replay will be available after the conclusion of the call.

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., Horizon Air Industries, Inc., and Virgin America Inc. (through July 20, 2018, at which point it was legally merged into Alaska Airlines, Inc.) are referred to as "Alaska," "Horizon," and "Virgin America" 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, 2018, as well as in other documents filed by the Company with the SEC after the date thereof. Some of these risks include general economic conditions, increases in operating costs including fuel, competition, labor costs and relations, our indebtedness, inability to meet cost reduction goals, seasonal fluctuations in our financial results, an aircraft accident, changes in laws and regulations and risks inherent in the achievement of anticipated synergies and the timing thereof in connection with the acquisition of Virgin America. 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 its regional partners fly 44 million guests a year to more than 115 destinations with an average of 1,200 daily flights across the United States and to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica. With Alaska and Alaska Global Partners, guests can earn and redeem miles on flights to more than 900 destinations worldwide. Alaska Airlines ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Carriers in North America" in the J.D. Power North America Airline Satisfaction Study for 11 consecutive years from 2008 to 2018. Learn about Alaska's award-winning service at newsroom.alaskaair.com and blog.alaskaair.com. Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group (ALK).

 

CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS (unaudited)

Alaska Air Group, Inc.








Three Months Ended March 31,

(in millions, except per-share amounts)

2019


2018


Change

Operating Revenues:






Passenger revenue

$

1,716



$

1,684



2

%

Mileage Plan other revenue

110



107



3

%

Cargo and other

50



41



22

%

Total Operating Revenues

1,876



1,832



2

%

Operating Expenses:






Wages and benefits

557



536



4

%

Variable incentive pay

35



39



(10)

%

Aircraft fuel, including hedging gains and losses

420



409



3

%

Aircraft maintenance

120



107



12

%

Aircraft rent

83



74



12

%

Landing fees and other rentals

132



126



5

%

Contracted services

72



81



(11)

%

Selling expenses

72



78



(8)

%

Depreciation and amortization

106



94



13

%

Food and beverage service

49



50



(2)

%

Third-party regional carrier expense

41



37



11

%

Other

138



141



(2)

%

Special items - merger-related costs

26



6



NM


Special items - other



25



NM


Total Operating Expenses

1,851



1,803



3

%

Operating Income

25



29



(14)

%

Nonoperating Income (Expense):






Interest income

9



8



13

%

Interest expense

(22)



(24)



(8)

%

Interest capitalized

4



5



(20)

%

Other—net

(10)



(12)



(17)

%

Total Nonoperating Income (Expense)

(19)



(23)



(17)

%

Income Before Income Tax

6



6




Income tax expense

2



2




Net Income

$

4



$

4










Basic Earnings Per Share:

$

0.03



$

0.03




Diluted Earnings Per Share:

$

0.03



$

0.03










Shares Used for Computation:






Basic

123.291



123.155




Diluted

123.915



123.630










Cash dividend declared per share:

$

0.35



$

0.32




 

CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS (unaudited)



Alaska Air Group, Inc.







(in millions)

March 31, 2019


December 31, 2018

Cash and marketable securities

$

1,436



$

1,236


Other current assets

565



551


Current assets

2,001



1,787


Property and equipment - net

6,629



6,781


Operating lease assets

1,715




Goodwill

1,943



1,943


Intangible assets - net

127



127


Other assets

225



274


Total assets

12,640



10,912






Air traffic liability

1,116



788


Current portion of long-term debt

300



486


Current portion of operating lease liabilities

275




Other current liabilities

1,695



1,668


Current liabilities

3,386



2,942


Long-term debt

1,664



1,617


Long-term operating lease liabilities

1,443




Other liabilities and credits

2,401



2,602


Shareholders' equity

3,746



3,751


Total liabilities and shareholders' equity

$

12,640



$

10,912






Debt-to-capitalization ratio, adjusted for certain operating leases(a)

47

%


47

%





Number of common shares outstanding

123.504



123.194




(a)

Following the adoption of the new lease accounting standard on January 1, 2019, the ratio is calculated using the total capitalized Operating lease liability, whereas prior year periods were calculated utilizing the present value of aircraft lease payments. This change had no impact to the ratio.

 

OPERATING STATISTICS SUMMARY (unaudited)

Alaska Air Group, Inc.













Three Months Ended March 31,


2019


2018


Change

Consolidated Operating Statistics:(a)






Revenue passengers (000)

10,417


10,489


(0.7)%

RPMs (000,000) "traffic"

12,449


12,403


0.4%

ASMs (000,000) "capacity"

15,508


15,480


0.2%

Load factor

80.3%


80.1%


0.2 pts

Yield

13.78¢


13.58¢


1.5%

RASM

12.10¢


11.84¢


2.2%

CASMex(b)

9.06¢


8.81¢


2.8%

Economic fuel cost per gallon(b)

$2.13


$2.14


(0.5)%

Fuel gallons (000,000)

199


197


1.0%

ASM's per gallon

77.9


78.6


(0.9)%

Average number of full-time equivalent employees (FTE)

21,832


21,266


2.7%

Mainline Operating Statistics:






Revenue passengers (000)

7,864


8,211


(4.2)%

RPMs (000,000) "traffic"

11,172


11,360


(1.7)%

ASMs (000,000) "capacity"

13,874


14,098


(1.6)%

Load factor

80.5%


80.6%


(0.1) pts

Yield

12.73¢


12.69¢


0.3%

RASM

11.31¢


11.20¢


1.0%

CASMex(b)

8.30¢


8.02¢


3.5%

Economic fuel cost per gallon(b)

$2.12


$2.13


(0.5)%

Fuel gallons (000,000)

169


172


(1.7)%

ASM's per gallon

82.1


82.0


0.1%

Average number of FTE's

16,457


16,013


2.8%

Aircraft utilization

10.4


11.2


(7.1)%

Average aircraft stage length

1,304


1,285


1.5%

Operating fleet

237


224


13 a/c

Regional Operating Statistics:(c)






Revenue passengers (000)

2,553


2,278


12.1%

RPMs (000,000) "traffic"

1,277


1,043


22.4%

ASMs (000,000) "capacity"

1,634


1,382


18.2%

Load factor

78.2%


75.5%


2.7 pts

Yield

23.03¢


23.70¢


(2.8)%

RASM

18.68¢


18.26¢


2.3%

Operating fleet

93


83


10 a/c



(a)

Except for FTEs, data includes information related to third-party regional capacity purchase flying arrangements.

(b) 

See a reconciliation of this non-GAAP measure and Note A for a discussion of potential importance of this measure to investors in the accompanying pages.

(c) 

Data presented includes information related to flights operated by Horizon and third-party carriers, excluding Pen Air.

 

OPERATING SEGMENTS (unaudited)

Alaska Air Group, Inc.


























Three Months Ended March 31, 2019

(in millions)

Mainline


Regional


Horizon


Consolidating
& Other


Air Group
Adjusted(a)


Special
Items(b)


Consolidated

Operating revenues














Passenger revenues

$

1,422



$

294



$



$



$

1,716



$



$

1,716


CPA revenues





116



(116)








Mileage Plan other revenue

100



10







110





110


Cargo and other

48



1



1





50





50


Total operating revenues

1,570



305



117



(116)



1,876





1,876


Operating expenses














Operating expenses, excluding fuel

1,152



274



97



(118)



1,405



26



1,431


Economic fuel

358



66







424



(4)



420


Total operating expenses

1,510



340



97



(118)



1,829



22



1,851


Nonoperating income (expense)














Interest income

16







(7)



9





9


Interest expense

(21)





(8)



7



(22)





(22)


Interest capitalized

4









4





4


Other - net

(10)









(10)





(10)


Total Nonoperating income (expense)

(11)





(8)





(19)





(19)


Income (loss) before income tax

$

49



$

(35)



$

12



$

2



$

28



$

(22)



$

6




Three Months Ended March 31, 2018

(in millions)

Mainline


Regional


Horizon


Consolidating
& Other


Air Group
Adjusted(a)


Special
Items(b)


Consolidated

Operating revenues














Passenger revenues

$

1,441



$

243



$



$



$

1,684



$



$

1,684


CPA revenues





110



(110)








Mileage Plan other revenue

98



9







107





107


Cargo and other

40





1





41





41


Total operating revenues

1,579



252



111



(110)



1,832





1,832


Operating expenses














Operating expenses, excluding fuel

1,131



239



104



(111)



1,363



31



1,394


Economic fuel

367



55







422



(13)



409


Total operating expenses

1,498



294



104



(111)



1,785



18



1,803


Nonoperating income (expense)














Interest income

11







(3)



8





8


Interest expense

(22)





(5)



3



(24)





(24)


Interest capitalized

4





1





5





5


Other - net

(5)



(7)







(12)





(12)


Total Nonoperating income (expense)

(12)



(7)



(4)





(23)





(23)


Income (loss) before income tax

$

69



$

(49)



$

3



$

1



$

24



$

(18)



$

6




(a)

The Air Group Adjusted column represents the financial information that is reviewed by management to assess performance of operations and determine capital allocation and does not include certain charges. See Note A in the accompanying pages for further information.

(b) 

Includes merger-related costs, an employee bonus awarded in January 2018 in connection with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and mark-to-market fuel hedge accounting adjustments.

 

GAAP TO NON-GAAP RECONCILIATIONS (unaudited)

Alaska Air Group, Inc.








CASM Excluding Fuel and Special Items Reconciliation



Three Months Ended March 31,


2019


2018

Consolidated:




CASM

11.94

¢


11.65

¢

Less the following components:




Aircraft fuel, including hedging gains and losses

2.71



2.64


Special items - merger-related costs

0.17



0.04


Special items - other(a)



0.16


CASM excluding fuel and special items

9.06

¢


8.81

¢





Mainline:




CASM

11.04

¢


10.72

¢

Less the following components:




Aircraft fuel, including hedging gains and losses

2.55



2.51


Special items - merger-related costs

0.19



0.04


Special items - other(a)



0.15


CASM excluding fuel and special items

8.30

¢


8.02

¢



(a)

Special items - other includes special charges associated with the employee tax reform bonus awarded in January 2018.

 

Fuel Reconciliation


Three Months Ended March 31,


2019


2018

(in millions, except for per-gallon amounts)

Dollars


Cost/Gallon


Dollars


Cost/Gallon

Raw or "into-plane" fuel cost

$

421



$

2.11



$

423



$

2.15


(Gains) losses on settled hedges

3



0.02



(1)



(0.01)


Consolidated economic fuel expense

424



2.13



422



2.14


Mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustment

(4)



(0.02)



(13)



(0.07)


GAAP fuel expense

$

420



$

2.11



$

409



$

2.07


Fuel gallons

199





197




 

Debt-to-capitalization, adjusted for certain operating leases

(in millions)

March 31, 2019


December 31, 2018

Long-term debt

$

1,664



$

1,617


Capitalization of certain operating leases(a)

1,718



1,768


Adjusted debt

3,382



3,385


Shareholders' equity

3,746



3,751


Total Invested Capital

$

7,128



$

7,136






Debt-to-capitalization ratio, adjusted for certain operating leases

47

%


47

%



(a)

Following the adoption of the new lease accounting standard on January 1, 2019, the ratio is calculated using the total capitalized Operating lease liability, whereas prior year periods were calculated utilizing the present value of aircraft lease payments. This change had no impact to the ratio.

Note A: Pursuant to Regulation G, we are providing reconciliations of reported non-GAAP financial measures to their most directly comparable financial measures reported on a GAAP basis. We believe that consideration of these non-GAAP financial measures may be important to investors for the following reasons:

  • By eliminating fuel expense and certain special items (including merger-related costs) from our unit metrics, we believe that we have better visibility into the results of operations and our non-fuel cost-reduction initiatives. Our industry is highly competitive and is characterized by high fixed costs, so even a small reduction in non-fuel operating costs can result in a significant improvement in operating results. In addition, we believe that all domestic carriers are similarly impacted by changes in jet fuel costs over the long run, so it is important for management (and thus investors) to understand the impact of (and trends in) company-specific cost drivers such as labor rates and productivity, airport costs, maintenance costs, etc., which are more controllable by management.
  • Cost per ASM (CASM) excluding fuel and certain special items, such as merger-related costs, is one of the most important measures used by management and by the Air Group Board of Directors in assessing quarterly and annual cost performance.
  • Adjusted income before income tax and CASM excluding fuel (and other items as specified in our plan documents) are important metrics for the employee incentive plan, which covers the majority of Air Group employees.
  • CASM excluding fuel and certain special items is a measure commonly used by industry analysts, and we believe it is the basis by which they compare our airlines to others in the industry. The measure is also the subject of frequent questions from investors.
  • Disclosure of the individual impact of certain noted items provides investors the ability to measure and monitor performance both with and without these special items. We believe that disclosing the impact of certain items, such as merger-related costs and mark-to-market hedging adjustments, is important because it provides information on significant items that are not necessarily indicative of future performance. Industry analysts and investors consistently measure our performance without these items for better comparability between periods and among other airlines.
  • Although we disclose our passenger unit revenues, we do not (nor are we able to) evaluate unit revenues excluding the impact that changes in fuel costs have had on ticket prices. Fuel expense represents a large percentage of our total operating expenses. Fluctuations in fuel prices often drive changes in unit revenues in the mid-to-long term. Although we believe it is useful to evaluate non-fuel unit costs for the reasons noted above, we would caution readers of these financial statements not to place undue reliance on unit costs excluding fuel as a measure or predictor of future profitability because of the significant impact of fuel costs on our business.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

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

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

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

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

Debt-to-capitalization ratio - represents adjusted debt (long-term debt plus the present value of future operating lease payments) divided by total equity plus adjusted debt

Diluted Earnings per Share - represents earnings per share (EPS) 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

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

Free Cash Flow - total operating cash flow generated less cash paid for capital expenditures

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

Mainline - represents flying Boeing 737, Airbus 320 and Airbus 321neo family jets and all associated revenues and costs

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

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

Regional - represents capacity purchased by Alaska from Horizon, SkyWest and PenAir. In this segment, Regional records actual on-board passenger revenue, less costs such as fuel, distribution costs, and payments made to Horizon, SkyWest and PenAir under the respective capacity purchased arrangement (CPAs). Additionally, Regional includes an allocation of corporate overhead such as IT, finance, other administrative costs incurred by Alaska and on behalf of Horizon.

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

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

 

Cision

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