Delta 4Q profits beat estimates and airline raises guidance


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With the U.S. Capitol dome in the distance, a Delta airplane takes off from Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC.

Delta adjusted its earnings to include items such as its minority stakes in Virgin Atlantic and Aeromexico, as well as one-time charge of $150 million due to the tax law, which revalues its deferred tax assets. Delta, like some of its competitors, doesn’t pay federal taxes due to previous years of losses. The lower corporate tax rate revalues those tax assets, which are used to offset owed taxes.

Delta raised its full-year estimates for 2018 from $6.35 a share to $6.70 a share because of benefits from the new tax law, the airline’s CEO Ed Bastian said in a release. During an investor day last month, the airline forecast earnings per share for 2018 of $5.35 to $5.70 for 2018.

The new tax law will help the company offset some of the impact from higher fuel costs, Delta said. The airline said its fuel expenses rose more than 20 percent in the quarter.

On a call later Thursday, Delta executives will likely address the impact from a powerful winter storm and resulting travel chaos at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, a major hub for Delta, as well as an ongoing trade dispute between Delta suppliers Boeing and Canada’s Bombardier.

Airline stocks had surged on Wednesday after Delta’s rivals United Airlines and American Airlines, which report later this month, issued better-than-expected outlooks for passenger revenue.

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