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Lower Fuel Costs Help Air Methods Corp. Soar in Q1

By Keith Speights - May 6, 2016 at 10:31AM

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The air medical transport company posts solid Q1 results, thanks in part to lower spending on aviation fuel.

Image source: Air Methods.

Thanks to a sneak preview last week, investors already pretty much knew what to expect from Air Methods' (AIRM) first-quarter performance. The air medical transport company announced its full first-quarter results after the market closed on Tuesday. Here are the highlights.

Air Methods results: The raw numbers


Q1 2016 Actuals

Q1 2015 Actuals

Growth (YOY)


$269.4 million

$238.3 million


Net income from continuing operations

$20.5 million

$12.6 million


Earnings per share




Data source: Yahoo! Finance. YOY = Year over year. 

What happened with Air Methods this quarter?
Air Methods turned in a solid performance in the first quarter. Lower fuel costs served as a major factor in the positive numbers. The company said that air medical services fuel costs dropped $1.2 million from the prior-year period, with fuel expense per flight hour down 35.9% year over year. For Air Methods' tourism segment, fuel expense per flight hour decreased 26.5%.

Other highlights from the first quarter included:

  • Air medical services revenue jumped 14.2% year over year, to $235.2 million.
  • Community-based patient transports in the company's air medical services segment increased 22.6% year over year, to 13,852.
  • Net revenue per patient transport dropped slightly from $11,651 to $11,623 in the prior-year period.
  • Tourism segment revenue fell to $27.2 million -- a 3.5% decline from the first quarter of 2015.
  • United Rotorcraft external revenue increased 67.8% over the prior-year period, to $6.9 million.

What management had to say
Aaron Todd, CEO of Air Methods, liked what he saw during the first quarter. Todd said:

We are pleased with our first quarter results, which would have been in-line with the pre-released range were it not for an adjustment to the value of equity put options related to our redeemable non-controlling interests described below. In the Company's air medical segment, same-base transports increased 3.1% and maintenance expense moderated from last year's elevated levels, while lower fuel costs continue to be a tailwind for both our air medical and tourism divisions. Additionally, the Tri-State Care Flight (TSCF) acquisition is performing well. It contributed $15.3 million in revenue and $4.4 million of pre-tax income in the first quarter despite being included for only a partial period. We remain optimistic about our future and have continued to repurchase shares in the first and second quarters of 2016.

Looking forward
Air Methods might face intensified competition if rivals look to lessen their dependence on revenue from oil and gas customers. PHI is one company that seems to already be making a shift in this direction.

The Louisiana-based helicopter-services company generated 39% of total revenue from its air medical segment in 2015, up from 32% just two years earlier. PHI's stock has outperformed Air Methods so far in 2016, at least in part because of weather issues hurting Air Methods' first-quarter results.

Air Methods stock might be in for good news in the second quarter, though. The company said that total community-based transports in April were 6,142 -- a 21.2% jump from the same quarter last year. Same-base transports during the month increased by 216 over the prior-year period. Weather cancellations were down by 280 compared to April 2015.

That's a good start. If fuel costs remain under control, Air Methods could have even bluer skies ahead.

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