AMR Shares Fall After Disappointing Outlook

By DAVID KOENIG
|  Wednesday, Sep 22, 2010  |  Updated 1:30 PM CDT
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AMR Shares Fall After Disappointing Outlook

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Shares of AMR Corp. tumbled by 8 percent Wednesday morning after the company's outlook failed to impress some analysts.

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Shares of Fort Worth-based American Airlines parent AMR Corp. tumbled by 8 percent Wednesday morning after the company's outlook for stronger revenue failed to impress some analysts.

The company said late Tuesday that third-quarter unit revenue, or total revenue divided by available seats times miles flown, would grow between 9.8 percent and 10.8 percent compared with a year ago.

But at a time when many airlines have been boosting revenue with higher fares and fees on checked baggage, the comments of two analysts suggested that AMR's outlook wasn't rosy enough.

JP Morgan analyst Jamie Baker said the outlook "paints a softer-than-expected 3Q outcome." He cut his forecast of AMR's third-quarter profit by more than half.

Dahlman Rose & Co. analyst Helane Becker said the outlook would cause the consensus view among other analysts to fall. She said she continued to avoid owning AMR shares.

AMR was the only major U.S. airline to lose money in the second quarter. Analysts expected it to earn 53 cents per share in the third quarter, according to a Thomson Reuters survey.

Becker, while raising her earnings forecast to 26 cents per share from 21 cents per share, predicted that the consensus number would fall after Tuesday's report. Baker cut his profit forecast to 31 cents per share from 65 cents per share.

AMR fell 55 cents, or 8 percent, to $6.33 in morning trading.

In its report Tuesday, AMR also said its balance of unrestricted cash and short-term investments would fall to around $4.3 billion by Sept. 30, down from about $5 billion at the end of June.

Becker said labor issues were a bigger problem than liquidity.

"We continue to avoid these shares due to the lack of profitability and the company's labor contracts," she wrote in a note to clients.

American says it has higher labor costs than other airlines, and it's negotiating new contracts with its three unions. Two of the unions have asked federal officials for permission to move toward a strike.

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