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American Airlines posts third-quarter loss and trims 2023 profit forecast

American Airlines posted a third-quarter loss on Thursday and trimmed its profit forecast for the year, partly in response to higher fuel prices.

The carrier said Thursday it expects to earn between $2.25 and $2.50 a share, on an adjusted basis, for the year, down from an estimate in July of $3 to $3.75 but largely in line with analyst expectations. American said it expects a full-year adjusted operating margin of 7%, down from a previous forecast for as wide a margin as 10%.

For the fourth quarter, American estimated it would break even.

Here’s how American Airlines performed in the third quarter compared with what Wall Street anticipated, based on an average of analysts’ estimates compiled by LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv:

Adjusted earnings per share: 38 cents vs. 25 cents expected
Total revenue: $13.48 billion vs. expected $ 13.52 billion

While airlines have enjoyed a resurgence of travel since the Covid pandemic ended, especially for international destinations, fares broadly have dropped from last year.

American said it expects unit revenue in the fourth quarter to drop between 5.5% and 7.5% from a year earlier with unit costs, excluding fuel, up 5% to 7% year over year and capacity up 4.5% to 6.5% from the same period of 2022.

The company lost $545 million, or 83 cents per share, during the third quarter, down from a profit of $483 million, or 69 cents per share during the same period a year earlier. It was the carrier’s first loss since the first quarter of 2022. Capacity was up 7% from a year ago.

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CEO Robert Isom told staff in a note that “while there were bumps along the way, such as significantly higher fuel costs that resulted in lower earnings in the quarter, our team continues to excel at controlling what we can control, which will make us successful no matter the environment.”

Adjusting for higher costs associated with the pilots’ new labor agreement, the company reported earnings of $263 million, or 38 cents per share.

Revenue was up 0.1% from the year-ago period.