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Southwest Airlines (LUV) Load Factor Declines in October

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Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV - Free Report) reported traffic results for October 2018. Traffic (measured in revenue passenger miles or RPMs) rose 6% to around 11.32 billion while capacity or available seat miles (ASMs) expanded 7.7% to 13.4 billion.

However, load factor (percentage of seats filled by passengers) contracted 130 basis points (bps) to 84.5% in the month as traffic growth was exceeded by capacity expansion. Meanwhile, passenger count grew 4.2% to 14.07 million.

In the first 10 months of 2018, Southwest Airlines witnessed a 3.2% increase in RPMs to 110.93 billion. Also, ASMs inched up 3.5% to 132.83 billion. As a result, the load factor declined 30 bps to 83.5%. However, passenger count climbed 4% to 135.97 million on a year-to-date basis.

Last month, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company reported third-quarter financial numbers, delivering better-than-expected results. The company’s earnings per share of $1.08, beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.06. Moreover, the bottom line ascended 22.7% on a year-over-year basis despite higher fuel prices. Results were aided by stronger revenues. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Operating revenues of $5,575 million outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $5,557 million. The top line also rose year over year. (Read more: Southwest Q3 Earnings Top Estimates on Higher Revenues)

Other key airline players, namely American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL - Free Report) , Spirit Airlines, Inc. (SAVE - Free Report) and Alaska Air Group, Inc. (ALK - Free Report) also announced third-quarter earnings figures in October. Each of the carriers pulled off better-than-expected performance in the reported quarter.

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