As we expected, Delta Airlines’ 3Q results turned out to be better than expected, however, investors were alarmed by rather conservative expectations of management for 4Q, which provoked sales in the company’s shares, which led to a 5% decrease in capitalization at the end of yesterday’s trading session. Delta’s adjusted net income per share for the past quarter was $ 0.3 versus our estimate of $ 0.21. Adjusted operating revenue excluding refinery sales was $ 8.3 billion, 66% of 2019 levels. Management noted that domestic flights and flights to Latin America continued to recover moderately, but transatlantic flights showed the best performance in the third quarter. Compared to 2019, domestic flights decreased by 28%, international flights by 58%, and transatlantic flights by 65%. The management said corporate flights dismantled good performance in July, but stopped growing in August and September.
Delta’s operating expenses increased 12% compared to Q2 2021 due to continued increases in production capacity as management works to bring the airline back to pre-pandemic levels. Fuel costs increased in Q3, but significant increases are projected in Q4 2021 due to higher oil prices, which could put pressure on profit in Q4. Delta forecasts fuel costs in the $ 2.25- $ 2.4 / gallon range, up 14-22% from Q3 and 56-67% above Q4 2020 levels. Rising fuel prices and slow recovery of business flights are the main short-term risks for Q4. We believe Delta has provided a very conservative outlook due to the sluggish business dynamics seen in October. We believe the company will be able to demonstrate improved business through domestic tourism and increased international flights in November and December with high vaccination rates throughout 2021. We maintain a positive attitude towards the Delta Airlines business and maintain our target share price of $ 53.
Delta Air Lines is the U.S. global airline leader in safety, innovation, reliability and customer experience. Delta has for a decade led the airline industry in operational excellence while maintaining our reputation for award-winning customer service. Delta is a founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance.