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JetBlue Airways (JBLU) Posts Q1 Loss, Suffers Weak Load Factor

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Akin to its peers Alaska Air Group (ALK - Free Report) , Hawaiian Holdings (HA - Free Report) and Southwest Airlines (LUV - Free Report) , JetBlue Airways (JBLU - Free Report) discourages investors with a loss posted in first-quarter 2020 results.

The airline incurred a loss (excluding 55 cents from non-recurring items) of 42 cents per share, comparing unfavorably with the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 41 cents. Results were hurt by the coronavirus-induced weakness in air-travel demand.

Moreover, operating revenues of $1,588 million decreased 15.1% year over year and also lagged the the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,690 million. The year-over-year plunge was due to the 16.1% decrease in passenger revenues, which accounted for bulk (95.2%) of the top line. Revenues from other sources increased 10.7% to $77 million.

Moreover, revenue per available seat mile (RASM: a key measure of unit revenues) in the reported quarter dropped 12% to 10.67 cents. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) fell 13% to 10.15 cents. Average fare at JetBlue during the quarter inched up 4.6% to $185.44. Yield per passenger mile increased 2.8% year over year to 14.54 cents.

Capacity, measured in available seat miles, contracted 3.5% year over year. Meanwhile, traffic, measured in revenue passenger miles, deteriorated 18.4% due to softness in air-travel demand. Consolidated load factor (percentage of seats filled by passengers) contracted 12.7 percentage points year over year to 69.8% as traffic decline was more than the capacity reduction in the reported quarter.

In the first quarter, total operating expenses (on a reported basis) increased 7.1% year over year, partly due to higher costs pertaining to salaries, wages and benefits. Average fuel cost per gallon (including fuel taxes) decreased 9.3% year over year to $1.86. JetBlue’s operating expenses per available seat mile (CASM) increased 11% to 12.91 cents. Excluding fuel, the metric increased 4%.

JetBlue, carrying a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold), exited the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $1,618 million compared with $959 million at the end of 2019. Total debt at the end of the reported quarter was $3,217 million compared with $2,334 million at 2019 end.

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Management at JetBlue stated that due to the various measures undertaken to combat the current pandemic-inflicted crisis, it successfully lowered its cash burn from $18 million per day, on average, during the second half of March to just under $10 million by May. This excludes the CARES Act support of approximately $5 million per day through Sep 30, 2020. Moreover, the carrier expects second-quarter capacity to be reduced 80% compared to its original plan.

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