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Delta swings to loss in 2Q as bet on fuel prices didn't work

Published July 25, 2012 8:30 am

Airlines • Carrier paid $3.95 per gallon versus $3.21 if hedging bet had paid off.
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Minneapolis • For an airline, the whole idea of fuel hedging is to protect against big run-ups in oil prices. It didn't work out that way for Delta Air Lines Inc.

Its bets on oil prices went the wrong way, pushing it to a second-quarter loss of $168 million, or 20 cents per share. During the same period last year, Delta had net income of $198 million, or 23 cents per share.

The airline said Wednesday that it lost $561 million on wrong oil price bets that haven't settled yet. It also had $171 million in severance costs from voluntary staff reductions.

If not for special items, Delta would have earned $586 million for the quarter, or 69 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected 68 cents per share.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $9.73 billion, better than analysts had expected.

Delta plans to cut third-quarter flying by 1 to 3 percent compared to the same period last year. The airline expects "strong profitability" in the third quarter, CEO Richard Anderson said in a statement.

Delta said cargo revenue fell 1 percent as prices fell, even though it carried more goods.

Delta would have paid $3.21 per gallon for fuel during the quarter if not for the bad oil price bets. But because of those bets, it paid the equivalent of $3.95 per gallon.

Delta's western-most U.S. hub is at Salt Lake City International Airport.