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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

American Air beats for quarter, cuts forecast on higher fuel

Grounded American Airlines planes are shown as flights are cancelled at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va. on January 11.  (Nathan Howard/Bloomberg)
By Mary Schlangenstein Bloomberg

American Airlines Group Inc. topped Wall Street’s expectations for third-quarter profit even as its forecast for the rest of the year fell short, underscoring the choppy environment as carriers are battered by climbing jet fuel prices.

Adjusted full-year earnings will be between $2.25 and $2.50 a share, compared with its earlier outlook for as much as $3.75, American said in a statement Thursday.

The revision was closer to the $2.34 average from analyst expectations.

American’s shares rose 3% at 10:00 a.m. in New York. The stock fell 10.7% this year through Wednesday, compared with an 11.6% decline in the S&P 500 Index of the five largest U.S, carriers.

Carriers across the industry are being hit by a 26% jump since June in the price of jet fuel, which vies with labor as airlines’ largest expense.

Because most tickets are sold well in advance, there’s normally a lag time of a couple of months before carriers can raise fares to begin recovering higher fuel costs.

“While there were bumps along the way, such as significantly higher fuel costs that resulted in lower earnings in the quarter, our team continues to excel at controlling what we can control,” Chief Executive Officer Robert Isom told American workers in an email.

Every 10-cent per gallon increase in the price per year of fuel adds $2 billion in costs for the U.S. passenger and cargo airline industry, according to Airlines for America.

The airline’s adjusted third-quarter profit of 38 cents a share topped the 25 cents expected by analysts.

Revenue was $13.5 billion, matching analysts’ forecast. The carrier credited growth in corporate and government revenue and sales tied to its loyalty and credit card programs.

Fourth-quarter adjusted profit will be flat with 2022, American said, compared with analysts’ expectations for a 7-cent profit per share.