JULY 23RD, 2015
Southwest Airlines Reports Record Quarterly Profit
DALLAS, July 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) (the “Company”) today reported its second quarter 2015 results:
Record quarterly net income, excluding special items1, of $691 million, or $1.03 per diluted share. This represented a $206 million increase from second quarter 2014 and exceeded the First Call consensus estimate of $1.02 per diluted share.
Record quarterly GAAP2 net income of $608 million, or $.90 per diluted share.
Record quarterly GAAP operating income of $1.1 billion. Excluding special items, record quarterly operating income of $1.1 billion, resulting in an operating margin3 of 22.5 percent.
Returned $430 million to Shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during second quarter 2015, and $811 million during first half 2015.
Return on invested capital, before taxes and excluding special items (ROIC)1, for the 12 months ended June 30, 2015, of 28.2 percent, compared with 17.1 percent for the 12 months ended June 30, 2014.
Subsequent to June 30, 2015, the Company amended and extended its co-branded credit card agreement with Chase Bank USA, N.A. (Chase), which is expected to provide generous rewards to the Company’s co-branded credit cardholders and significant future value to the Company’s Shareholders. The Company currently estimates its second half 2015 GAAP operating revenues will increase approximately $400 million from the combined impact of the amended agreement and the effect of a change in accounting methodology4.
Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "We are delighted to report another strong quarter of earnings. Our net income, excluding special items, of $691 million, or $1.03 per diluted share, is an all-time quarterly high and represents our ninth consecutive quarter of record profits. Operating income, excluding special items, increased 40.2 percent year-over-year, producing a strong 22.5 percent operating margin. We significantly expanded our margins and generated very strong cash flows during first half 2015, allowing us to return $811 million to Shareholders through dividends and share repurchases so far this year. In addition, we intend to launch a $500 million accelerated share repurchase program soon. We have a solid investment grade balance sheet, and we are pleased with the recent upgrade to Baa1 by Moody’s. For first half 2015, our record profits have earned our outstanding Employees a record $308 million profitsharing accrual, nearly doubling first half 2014’s contribution. For the 12 months ended June 30, 2015, our ROIC was an outstanding 28.2 percent, far surpassing our cost of capital. Our 2015 results, thus far, are exceptional, and our current outlook for the second half of 2015 is also strong, laying a solid foundation to surpass 2014’s ROIC.
“Fuel savings5 in second quarter 2015 were nearly $500 million, which led to a reduction in our second quarter 2015 unit costs, excluding special items, of almost 12 percent year-over-year. Second quarter 2015 economic fuel costs were $2.02 per gallon, compared with $3.02 per gallon in second quarter 2014. Based on our existing fuel derivative contracts and market prices as of July 20, 2015, we expect significant year-over-year fuel savings again in third quarter 2015, with economic fuel costs currently estimated to be approximately $2.20 per gallon, as compared with third quarter 2014’s $2.94 per gallon.
“We also were very pleased with our overall cost performance. Our cost control efforts, ongoing fleet modernization, and improved aircraft utilization resulted in a 1.8 percent year-over-year decline in our second quarter 2015 unit costs, excluding fuel and oil expense, special items, and second quarter 2015’s record profitsharing expense of $182 million. Based on current cost trends, and excluding fuel and oil expense, special items, and profitsharing, we expect third quarter 2015 unit costs to decline approximately one percent and full year 2015 unit costs to decline approximately two percent, both compared with the same year-ago periods.
“Our second quarter 2015 operating unit revenue performance was impacted by challenging year-over-year comparisons, longer average stage length, higher average seats per trip (gauge), and a softer yield environment. Still, we grew second quarter 2015 operating revenues 2.0 percent to a record $5.1 billion on a year-over-year increase in available seat miles (ASMs) of 7.0 percent. Demand for our popular low fares remained strong throughout the quarter resulting in a record 84.6 percent load factor. Our second quarter 2015 unit revenues declined 4.7 percent, as expected, driven largely by the 5.4 percent decline in passenger revenue yields, both as compared with second quarter last year. The year-ago results included $47 million in additional passenger revenue due to a change to previously recorded estimates of tickets expected to spoil in the future, which impacted second quarter 2015 year-over-year unit revenue comparisons by approximately one percent. Another two to three percent of the second quarter 2015 year-over-year unit revenue decline was driven by a 4.6 percent increase in average stage length and a 2.4 percent increase in gauge, both as compared with second quarter 2014.
“We continue to be extremely pleased with our development markets in Dallas. They are remarkably strong, surpassing system average margins and returns. In April, we launched nine additional daily nonstop flights, bringing our total daily flights out of Love Field to 166. By August 2015, we are scheduled to operate 180 weekday departures to 50 nonstop destinations.
“Our international expansion is also progressing, as planned, and producing expected results. We began service to Puerto Vallarta (PVR) in June and announced daily service between PVR and Denver beginning in November 2015, pending foreign government approval. We are excited to begin service by the end of this year between eight international cities and Houston (Hobby), including inaugural service to Belize City, Belize in October 2015, and Liberia, Costa Rica in November 2015, both pending foreign government approvals.
“Earlier this month, we were delighted to amend and extend our long-standing partnership with Chase for our co-branded credit card agreement. Beginning in third quarter 2015 and continuing thereafter, we expect to realize significant revenue enhancements. Since we re-launched our award-winning frequent flyer program in 2011, we have nearly doubled the size of our program, in terms of membership, and grown our credit card program, proportionately.
“While some yield softness has continued into July, demand thus far remains strong. Based on current bookings and revenue trends, and including the estimated benefit to operating revenues from our amended co-branded credit card agreement, we are currently estimating third quarter 2015 unit revenues to decline a modest one percent from third quarter 2014. Taking into consideration the ongoing impact of increased stage and gauge, as well as 18 percent of our network under development in third quarter 2015, we are very pleased with our third quarter revenue outlook.
“Overall, our network performance is exceptional. For this year, we are growing our ASMs approximately seven percent, year-over-year. The annualized impact of our 2015 expansion is expected to contribute the majority of 2016’s year-over-year capacity growth. As we continue to optimize our network, we are currently planning to grow our total 2016 ASMs in the five to six percent range, year-over-year, with the goal to sustain strong margins and ROIC levels in line with 2015.”
The Company’s second quarter 2015 total operating revenues were $5.1 billion, a 2.0 percent increase compared with second quarter 2014, largely driven by second quarter 2015 passenger revenues of $4.9 billion. In second quarter 2014, the Company recorded $47 million in additional passenger revenues due to a change to previously recorded estimates of tickets expected to spoil in the future, contributing to the challenging year-over-year comparisons in second quarter 2015 revenue trends.
Subsequent to June 30, 2015, the Company executed an amended co-branded credit card agreement with Chase, through which the Company sells loyalty points and other items to Chase. For accounting purposes, the amended agreement materially modifies the previously existing agreement between Chase and the Company and is subject to Accounting Standards Update 2009-13, “Multiple-Deliverable Revenue Arrangements – a consensus of the FASB Emerging Issues Task Force” (ASU 2009-13). The Company currently estimates that the combined impact from the amended agreement and the effect of the change in accounting methodology to ASU 2009-13 will increase its GAAP operating revenues by approximately $400 million in second half 2015, as compared with the same period last year.
Under the transition provisions of ASU 2009-13, the existing deferred revenue liability will be revalued to reflect the estimated selling price of the undelivered elements of the contract at the date of the amended agreement. As a result, and included within the estimated increase to GAAP operating revenues of approximately $400 million in second half 2015, the Company expects to record a one-time non-cash reduction to the deferred revenue liability with a corresponding increase to operating revenues in third quarter 2015 of approximately $150 million, which will be recorded as a special revenue item and is, therefore, excluded from the Company’s outlook on third quarter 2015 unit revenues. The remaining approximately $250 million estimated benefit will be included in second half 2015 unit revenues. The estimated portion of that amount related to third quarter 2015 was included in the Company’s current outlook for a third quarter 2015 unit revenue decline of approximately one percent, year-over-year.
Total operating expenses in second quarter 2015 decreased 5.0 percent to $4.0 billion, compared with second quarter 2014. During second quarter 2015, the Company expensed $55 million (before profitsharing and taxes) related to the proposed ratification bonuses included in the tentative collective-bargaining agreement recently reached with the Company’s Flight Attendants and related to the ratification bonuses paid to Dispatchers, Meteorologists, and Flight Simulator Technicians, which are special items. Excluding special items in both periods, total operating expenses in second quarter 2015 decreased 5.5 percent to $4.0 billion, compared with second quarter 2014.
Second quarter 2015 economic fuel costs were $2.02 per gallon, including $.08 per gallon in unfavorable cash settlements from fuel derivative contracts, compared with $3.02 per gallon in second quarter 2014, including $.05 per gallon in favorable cash settlements from fuel derivative contracts. As of July 20, 2015, the fair market value of the Company’s fuel derivative contracts was a net liability of approximately $1.3 billion for the fuel hedge portfolio through 2018, including a $308 million net liability related to the remainder of 2015. Additional information regarding the Company’s fuel derivative contracts is included in the accompanying tables.
Excluding fuel and oil expense and special items in both periods, second quarter 2015 operating costs increased 6.9 percent from second quarter 2014, partially due to the second quarter 2015 profitsharing expense of $182 million, compared with $127 million in second quarter 2014. Excluding fuel and oil expense, special items, and profitsharing in both periods, second quarter 2015 operating costs increased 5.1 percent from second quarter 2014, and decreased 1.8 percent on a unit basis.
Operating income in second quarter 2015 was a record $1.1 billion, compared with $775 million in second quarter 2014. Excluding special items, operating income was also a record $1.1 billion in second quarter 2015, compared with $819 million in second quarter 2014.
Other expenses in second quarter 2015 were $108 million, compared with $29 million in second quarter 2014. The $79 million increase primarily resulted from $88 million in other losses recognized in second quarter 2015, compared with $3 million in second quarter 2014. In both periods, these losses included ineffectiveness and unrealized mark-to-market amounts associated with a portion of the Company’s fuel hedge portfolio, which are special items. Excluding these special items, second quarter 2015 had $19 million in other losses, compared with $15 million in second quarter 2014, primarily attributable to the premium costs associated with the Company’s fuel derivative contracts. Third quarter 2015 premium costs related to fuel derivative contracts are currently estimated to be in the $30 million to $35 million range, compared with $15 million in third quarter 2014. Net interest expense in second quarter 2015 was $20 million, compared with $26 million in second quarter 2014.
Second quarter 2015 net income was $608 million, or $.90 per diluted share, which included $83 million (net) of unfavorable special items, compared with second quarter 2014 net income of $465 million, or $.67 per diluted share, which included $20 million (net) of unfavorable special items. Excluding special items, second quarter 2015 net income was $691 million, or $1.03 per diluted share, compared with second quarter 2014 net income, excluding special items, of $485 million, or $.70 per diluted share.
For the six months ended June 30, 2015, total operating revenues increased 3.8 percent to $9.5 billion, while total operating expenses decreased 6.4 percent to $7.7 billion, resulting in operating income of $1.9 billion, compared with $991 million for the same period last year. Excluding special items, operating income was $1.9 billion for first half 2015, compared with $1.1 billion for first half 2014.
Net income for first half 2015 was $1.1 billion, or $1.57 per diluted share, compared with $617 million, or $0.88 per diluted share, for the same period last year. Excluding special items, net income for first half 2015 was $1.1 billion, or $1.69 per diluted share, compared with $611 million, or $0.87 per diluted share, for the same period last year.
Balance Sheet and Cash Flows
As of June 30, 2015, the Company had approximately $3.1 billion in cash and short-term investments, and a fully available unsecured revolving credit line of $1 billion. Net cash provided by operations during second quarter 2015 was $627 million, capital expenditures were $428 million, and assets constructed for others, net of reimbursements, were $19 million, resulting in free cash flow1 of $180 million. The Company repaid $40 million in debt and capital lease obligations during second quarter 2015, and intends to repay approximately $95 million in debt and capital lease obligations during the remainder of 2015. The Company funded $355 million to its ProfitSharing Plan during second quarter 2015 as a result of its 2014 results. In past years, the Company’s annual profitsharing contribution was funded in third quarter.
During second quarter 2015, the Company returned $430 million to its Shareholders through the payment of $50 million in dividends and the repurchase of $380 million in common stock. The Company completed its previous $1.0 billion share repurchase program with the repurchase of $80 million in common stock, or 1.9 million shares, during second quarter 2015. On May 13, 2015, the Company’s Board of Directors authorized a new $1.5 billion share repurchase program, along with a 25 percent increase in the Company’s quarterly dividend. Under the new $1.5 billion share repurchase program, the Company repurchased $300 million in common stock, or 8.1 million shares, pursuant to an accelerated share repurchase (ASR) program launched and completed during the quarter, bringing total shares repurchased during second quarter 2015 to approximately 10 million. In addition, during second quarter 2015, the Company received the remaining 1.8 million shares pursuant to the first quarter 2015 $300 million ASR program, bringing the total shares repurchased under that ASR program to 6.9 million. For first half 2015, free cash flow was a strong $1.0 billion which enabled the Company to return $811 million to Shareholders through the payment of $131 million in dividends and the repurchase of $680 million in common stock. The Company intends to repurchase an additional $500 million of Southwest common stock under an ASR program expected to be launched soon, which would bring total repurchases of common stock in 2015 to nearly $1.2 billion. Subsequent to the launch of the planned $500 million ASR program, the Company will have $700 million remaining under its existing $1.5 billion share repurchase program.
During second quarter 2015, the Company’s fleet increased by ten to 689 aircraft at period end. This reflects the second quarter delivery of six new Boeing 737-800s and five pre-owned Boeing 737-700s, as well as the retirement of one Boeing 737 Classic aircraft. The Company continues to manage to roughly 700 aircraft in 2015 and continues to expect to grow its net fleet approximately two percent, year-over-year, in 2016. As an extension of its fleet modernization initiatives, during second quarter 2015, the Company designated its 31 Boeing firm orders in 2016 as 737-800s rather than 737-700s and added 31 pre-owned 737-700 aircraft scheduled for delivery through 2018. In addition, subsequent to June 30, 2015, the Company canceled the 12 737NG options scheduled for delivery in 2016. Additional information regarding these revisions to the Company’s aircraft delivery schedule is included in the accompanying tables.
Awards and Recognitions
Recognized for Best Redemption Ability, Best Airline Customer Service, and Best Loyalty Credit Card by InsideFlyer for its Rapid Rewards program
Named as one of CR’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens 2015
Designated a 2015 Most Valuable Employer for military by CivilianJobs.com
Received CIO 100 Award from CIO Magazine
Named to BetterInvesting’s Top 100 Company list
Received a 2015 Texas Excellence Award from the U.S. Commerce & Trade Research Institute