Alaska Air Group today reported the best quarterly profit in its history.
The SeaTac-base airline holding company that owns Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air reported third quarter income excluding special items of $150.3 million, or 2.09 a share. That compares with income of $131.1 million, or $1.79 a share in last year’s third quarter.
Those profits beat Wall Street forecasts by a penny a share.
“Our pretax profit margin was one of the best in the industry, and it was made possible by the great service our people provide, low fares and strong demand. We recognize this is a difficult industry, but we’re committed to working together to sustain this high level of performance in the quarters and years ahead,” said Brad Tilden, Alaska Air Group chairman.
Alaska’s share price was down 1.54 percent in mid-day trading with the price at $37.76 a share.
The third quarter, traditionally the best for Alaska, which sees substantial tourist traffic to its namesake state in the summer, saw operating revenues rise by 6.2 percent in the three months ending Sept. 30. Meanwhile, the company’s total operating expenses fell by 4.9 percent.
The two airlines’ planes operated fuller than in the same quarter of 2011 despit a 6.8 percent increase in capacity.
The airline holding company recently announced a plane to share some of its good fortune with shareholders through a $250-million share repurchase program.
During 2012, Alaska also lowered its debt-to-capitalization ratio by eight points to 54 percent.
While earning record profits, the company also maintained its position as the most on-time airline among the ten top domestic airlines whose performance is reported by the federal Department of Transportation.
During the quarter, Alaska announced a plan to renew and expand its fleet. It announced an order with Boeing for 50 new 737s including 37 of Boeing’s new 737 Max aircraft.