Southwest Airlines Posts Record 1Q Profit

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-3H4 passenger jet prepares to land at Midway Airport on April 5, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

    Southwest Airlines Co. said Thursday that it made a record $152 million in the first quarter, more than doubling the $59 million it earned during the same time last year.

    The strong profit during a time of year that is traditionally the slowest for airlines is good news for the Dallas-based carrier, which has been struggling to integrate AirTran into its system following its 2010 acquisition.

    Southwest earned 22 cents per share, up from 8 cents per share in the same period last year. Excluding special items, the profit was 18 cents per share, beating the 16 cents expected by Wall Street analysts surveyed by FactSet.

    Revenue climbed 2 percent to $4.17 billion -- just shy of the $4.18 billion that analysts predicted.

    The average one-way fare rose 3.1 percent to $156.96.

    Spending on fuel dropped 9.8 percent from a year ago, offsetting a 7.8 percent increase in labor costs.

    Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said the company posted record earnings for any first quarter despite the weather-related cancelations of more than 7,500 flights. He estimated that winter storms reduced Southwest's operating profit by $50 million.

    Kelly said the second quarter was "off to a great start" with strong bookings and revenue trends plus stable prices for jet fuel.

    Shares added 8 cents to $24.16 in morning trading. They began the day up 28 percent so far this year.