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Southwest shares lag stocks of other airlines

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Southwest slipped while other airlines gained Friday after federal investigators said a Southwest jet that skidded off a runway this week landed nose-down — a violation of the airline's own procedures. Raymond James also downgraded Southwest's stock.

The National Transportation Safety Board said late Thursday that the plane landed on its front nose-wheel first. Airliners usually touch down first with the sturdier main landing gear under the wings, then ease the nose down. Several passengers and crew members were injured in Monday night's accident at New York's LaGuardia Airport.

Also on Friday, Raymond James downgraded Southwest shares to "Market Perform," or neutral, from "Outperform," saying that the Dallas company's financial performance trailed that of its competitors. Southwest Airlines Co. reported Thursday that its second-quarter net income fell 2 percent, although the adjusted profit was a penny per share better than expected by analysts in a FactSet survey.

Raymond James analysts said Southwest pretax earnings are growing more slowly than those of Delta and US Airways, although the airline was doing better than United, whose pretax earnings dropped in the first half of the year. The analysts excluded the effects of Southwest's ongoing integration of AirTran Airways.

Southwest declined to comment on the downgrade.

In afternoon trading, Southwest shares slipped 2 cents to close at $13.79; United Continental Holdings Inc. rose $1.95, or 5.7 percent, to $36.25; Delta Air Lines Inc. rose 42 cents, or 2 percent, to $21.90; and US Airways Group Inc. gained 26 cents to $19.09.