Delta Cleared for Takeoff on Latest Figures

Delta Air Lines’ (NYSE:DAL) fourth-quarter profits topped Wall Street’s expectations, as lower fuel prices and strong travel demand — particularly for high-priced premium tickets — lifted the Atlanta-based carrier’s results and boosted shares more than 4% in premarket trading Tuesday.

Delta doesn’t have the beleaguered Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737 Max in its fleet, the plane that has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.

Competitors American (NASDAQ:AAL), Southwest (NYSE:LUV) and United (NASDAQ:UAL) do have the Max in their fleets and have had to scale back growth planes as the fuel-efficient jets wait to be cleared by regulators to fly again.

Delta reported adjusted earnings of $1.70 a share, compared with analysts’ expectations of $1.40 a share, the company said in releasing its results before the market opened Tuesday.

On an unadjusted basis, Delta reported net income of $1.1 billion, up 8% from $1.02 billion during the fourth quarter of 2018. Revenues in the three months ended Dec. 31 rose 6.5% from a year earlier to $11.44 billion, slightly above analysts’ estimates.

Revenue from Delta’s premium cabins, such as business class grew 9% to $3.7 billion, more than twice the clip that main cabin revenue grew, which was $5.24 billion in the fourth quarter.

Shares in Delta were airborne $2.19, or 3.7%, to $61.68