Delta Air Lines Flies in Q4 on Improved Domestic Demand and Lower Fuel Costs

Domestic demand jumps in the fourth quarter as Delta manages to reduce fuel costs and net debt even further.

Jan 21, 2014 at 3:10PM

Airline giant Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) got clearance from the tower for takeoff this morning after delivering another quarter of impressive domestic and international growth mixed with a good bit of cost reduction.

For the fourth quarter, Delta Air Lines increased revenue by 6.1% over the previous year, to $7.87 billion, as traffic increased 2%, capacity jumped 2.9%, and passenger revenue per available seat mile, a measure of margin for airlines, rose 3%. Quarterly profit soared to $8.5 billion thanks to the reversal of an $8 billion noncash tax valuation allowance, but was a tamer $0.65 per share, or $558 million, when adjusted for special items.

Delta's two biggest boosts came from Latin American operations, which delivered an 18.5% increase in year-over-year revenue -- mostly because of a 16.3% increase in capacity to the region, and a 9.4% increase in domestic revenue, by far Delta's largest contributor to its top line, as yield improved 7.9% and capacity expanded 2.6%.

Delta saw a 1.5% increase in operating expenses due primarily to its higher capacity and passenger volume. Fuel expenses declined $91 million as a result of lower market fuel prices, even though the company reported a $46 million loss from its Trainer refining facility during the fourth quarter. If you recall, Delta Air Lines in 2012 became the first national carrier to purchase its own refinery in an effort to stem rising jet fuel costs. As a result of $1.2 billion in cash flow from operations this past quarter, it was able to further reduce its net debt to $9.4 billion.

Looking ahead, Delta anticipates its first-quarter operating margin will be in a range of 6%-8%, with jet fuel prices falling to $2.97-$3.02 per gallon. Furthermore, it anticipates a modest increase of 0.5%-1.5% in consolidated unit costs and a 2%-3% expansion in capacity.

Delta Air Lines' shares were up nearly 3% in midday trading.


Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers