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Spirit 4Q profit falls on Sandy, higher costs

MIRAMAR, Fla. (AP) -- Spirit Airlines Inc. said on Tuesday that its fourth-quarter profit fell 18 percent as Hurricane Sandy kept some passengers away and costs rose as it grew capacity. However, the results beat analyst expectations, and its shares jumped.

The discount airline earned $19.6 million, or 27 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 31. During the same period a year earlier it had earned almost $24 million, or 33 cents per share.

Revenue rose 20 percent, to $328.3 million from $273.9 million, even after a $25 million hit from Superstorm Sandy.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting a profit of 24 cents per share on revenue of $325.5 million.

Shares rose 74 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $20.12 in morning trading.

Revenue for each seat flown one mile, a key industry metric, fell to 11.1 cents, a drop of 6.6 percent because of Sandy and longer average flights.

Spirit, based in Miramar, Fla., charges more add-on fees than other airlines. Passengers paid an average of $52.73 in non-ticket revenue per flight segment, up more than 9 percent from a year earlier. Average ticket revenue per segment fell 8.6 percent to $71.30. Fees and other non-ticket revenue accounted for almost 43 percent of Spirit's fourth-quarter revenue.

For the full year, Spirit earned $108.5 million, up 42 percent from $76.4 million in 2011. Revenue rose 23 percent to $1.32 billion.

Shares of the Miramar, Fla.-based company rose $1.43, or 7.4 percent, to $20.81 in morning trading.