Passenger traffic at airports owned by Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste SAB de CV (NYSE:ASR), or ASUR, took flight in the third quarter thanks to strong domestic travel trends across Latin America. That helped boost the company's revenue. The company's profit margins, on the other hand, remained under pressure from higher expenses, which caused earnings to lose altitude again this quarter.

ASUR's results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q3 2018

Q3 2017

Year-Over-Year Change

Total passenger traffic

13.3 million

12.5 million

6.3%

Earnings per share

$1.76

$1.96

(10.2%)

Data source: Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste SAB de CV.

What happened with ASUR this quarter? 

Passenger traffic jumped:

  • Total passenger traffic in ASUR's nine Mexican airports rose 6.7% in the third quarter to 8.3 million. While traffic growth at its Cancun airport rose 5.8% to 6.3 million, the main growth drivers during the quarter were the company's eight other Mexican airports, where traffic surged 9.5% to 2 million, primarily due to a 10.4% increase in domestic passenger traffic at those locations.
  • Traffic at the company's airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, increased 3.8% to 2.2 million, driven by a big uptick in domestic traffic, which rose 5.3% to nearly 2 million. International passenger traffic, on the other hand, slid 5.9% due to the continued impact of Hurricane Maria, which slammed into Puerto Rico last September.
  • Passenger traffic at the company's Colombian airport group was 7.3% higher than the year-ago period, driven by a solid 6.4% increase in domestic traffic and a strong 12.4% surge in international passenger traffic.
  • The increase in traffic, as well as the acquisition of the Colombian airport group, helped boost ASUR's peso-denominated revenue by 14%, while its EBITDA surged 18.9%. 
  • Net income, however, fell 10.2%, which matched the decline in earnings per share on a U.S. dollar basis. One factor driving the lower result was a 36.6% increase in the cost of services due to higher energy, insurance, and maintenance costs. Interest expenses were also much higher than in the year-ago period because of the incremental debt ASUR took on to acquire the airports in Colombia.
An airplane taking off out of the view of a terminal.

Image source: Getty Images.

Looking forward 

ASUR opened Terminal 4 at its Cancun airport last year, which boosted its passenger-handling capacity to 32 million per year. The company is still working on expanding that terminal to handle 40 million passengers, which it expects to complete by 2020. 

Meanwhile, the company received approval earlier this year from the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation for the master development programs at each of its Mexican airports from 2019 through 2023. In addition to the investments to continue expanding Terminal 4, ASUR also plans to build a fifth terminal at that airport. Work on the $300 million terminal should start early next year, positioning the airport for continued passenger traffic growth.

Matthew DiLallo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.