American forecasts second-quarter profit on soaring travel demand, stock surges 11%

American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner takes off from Los Angeles international Airport on November 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

AaronP | Bauer-Griffin | GC Images | Getty Images

American Airlines on Thursday forecast a second-quarter profit as strong bookings help it cover soaring fuel costs.

American, the country’s largest airline, said March was the first month since the pandemic began that its revenue surpassed 2019 levels and said bookings have continued to rise. It forecast second-quarter sales as much as 8% higher than the same period three years ago.

It expects to fly as much as 94% of its 2019 schedule, more than competitors Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, which have been more conservative about restoring capacity throughout the pandemic.

American is the third major airline to report quarterly results. United said Wednesday it expects to return to a profit this year thanks to a surge in bookings and fares, echoing similar comments a week earlier from Delta. United’s forecast sent airline stocks higher in after-hours trading Wednesday.

American shares surged after reporting results and were up more than 11% in premarket trading Thursday, up from a roughly 5% increase fueled by United’s results. United was up more than 8%.

Here’s how American performed in the first quarter compared with what Wall Street expected, based on average estimates compiled by Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted loss per share: $2.32 versus an expected $2.40
  • Total revenue: $8.9 billion versus expected $8.826 billion

American posted a net loss of $1.6 billion in the first quarter on revenue of nearly $8.9 billion, more than double its $4 billion in sales a year ago and ahead of analyst estimates. Sales were down 16% compared with the same quarter of 2019.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline said it paid $2.80 a gallon for fuel in the first quarter, up 65% from last year. American stopped hedging fuel after oil prices cratered in 2014.

American executives will hold a call with analysts and media to discuss results at 8:30 a.m. ET.

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