Mexican airport group Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (NYSE:ASR), or ASUR, reported solid first-quarter results just before the opening bell this morning. Strong double-digit passenger traffic growth led to even stronger growth in revenue and in earnings, though earnings did miss estimates by a few pennies. Here's a closer look at the quarter.

Traffic continues to soar
Total passenger traffic across all of ASUR's airports was up 12.4% during the first quarter of last year. Domestic traffic led the charge, as it was up 16.6% thanks to strong double-digit growth across eight of the company's nine airports. Overall traffic growth was led by crown jewel Cancun; while it was only up 14.2%, it's by far the largest airport, as it contributes 48.2% of total traffic. The only weak link was Minatitlan, where traffic was up only 6%; however, that's the company's third-smallest airport.

Internationally, Cancun again did the heavy lifting, as it brought in 92.7% of international passenger traffic. Overall, Cancun's international traffic was up 10.8%, which was even better than overall international traffic growth of 10%. That's due to the fact that four airports saw a year-over-year decline in international traffic.

Traffic growth translates to profit growth
Despite some weakness in international passenger traffic growth,  ASUR's overall passenger traffic growth was strong, leading to very robust revenue and earnings growth. Revenue jumped 29.9%, to 1,796.6 million pesos. All three of the company's segments delivered strong revenue growth. Aeronautical services revenue was up 17% due to the impact of the company's 12.4% increase in passenger traffic.

Meanwhile, non-aeronautical services were up 18.8% due to strong growth in commercial revenue as increased passenger traffic led to stronger than 20% revenue growth in retail operations, food and beverage, parking lot fees, ground transportation, and teleservices. This helped push total commercial revenue per passenger up 6%, to 82.59 pesos. Finally, construction services revenue was up 815.7%, though this is the result of capital expenses and other investments in concessioned assets leading to equally robust growth in construction costs.

ASUR did an excellent job turning passenger traffic into profits. The company's operating profit jumped 22.6%, to 1,027.5 million pesos, and net income came in at 744.3 million pesos, or 2.48 pesos per share, and $1.62 per ADS in U.S. dollars. This represented earnings growth of 17.3% over last year's first quarter.

However, on an ADS basis, earnings missed analyst estimates by $0.03 per share. It didn't help matters that ASUR booked a very large 35.2 million pesos foreign exchange loss during the quarter after taking a very minimal foreign exchange loss in the first quarter of 2014. 

Investor takeaway
ASUR delivered another fine quarter. Passenger traffic continues to grow, especially at the company's key Cancun airport. Moreover, it continues to better monetize that traffic, as evidenced by the 6% growth in commercial revenue per passenger. Not only is traffic growing, but so is the amount the company generates on each new passenger. As long as those trends continue, ASUR's profits should continue to fly higher.

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