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Southwest Air tops third-quarter profit estimate, expects unit revenue rise

Southwest Airlines planes are seen in front of the Las Vegas strip, Nevada, United States in this April 23, 2015, file photo. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/Files

(Reuters) - Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) on Thursday reported third-quarter profit that topped analysts' expectations, and forecast that unit revenue would rise in the fourth quarter year-over-year, bucking a months-long decline in the metric.

The U.S. budget carrier earned $584 million in the third quarter, a nearly 78 percent rise over the year prior. On an adjusted basis, profit was $623 million, or 94 cents per diluted share, compared with the average analyst estimate of 92 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Southwest forecast that unit revenue would rise about 1 percent in the fourth quarter, compared to the year prior.

(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in New York Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)