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Citing weak freight market, Atlas Air cuts outlook

PURCHASE, N.Y. (AP) -- Cargo airline and aircraft leasing company Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc. on Thursday cut its guidance because of a weak freight market, and its shares fell sharply.

Atlas said it now expects a full-year profit of at least $4.65 per share, down from its previous guidance for over $5.10 per share. Analysts had been expecting $5.23 per share.

Shares plunged $9.44, or 17 percent, to close at $45.55.

CEO William J. Flynn blamed the reduced 2012 profit on ""the relative underperformance of the airfreight market to date this year and the softer-than-expected peak season that is materializing." Atlas hauls cargo for the military, too, but demand for that work dropped by 50 percent in the third quarter.

In the July-September period, net income rose 20 percent to $33.9 million, or $1.27 per share, from $28.2 million, or $1.07 per share, during the same period last year.

Revenue rose 13 percent to $409.3 million from $362.9 million a year ago.

Analysts had been expecting a profit of $1.36 per share on revenue of $414.6 million.

The most recent quarter got a boost from the company's continued ramp-up in its business of providing flight crews, maintenance, and insurance for customers including Boeing and air freight hauler DHL. It also saw growth in demand for hauling military passengers, even as military cargo shipments fell.