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Airlines' earnings forecast to rise in '09, as oil prices drop


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Em resumo: com a queda no preço do petróleo, as empresas, que já vêm cortando oferta, têm chances de reverter os balanços e lucrar em 2009. A crise na economia mundial não deve prejudicar as aéreas, cujos lucros cairam apenas levemente em recessões anteriores.

 

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Airlines' earnings forecast to rise in '09, as oil prices drop

Updated 14h 8m ago

 

By Dan Reed, USA TODAY

 

The same U.S. airlines that looked to be goners three months ago when oil reached $147 a barrel now may be headed toward healthy 2009 profits.

 

Several industry analysts are forecasting 2009 gains instead of big losses for Alaska (ALK), Delta (DAL), Continental (CAL) and US Airways (LCC). Perennial moneymaker Southwest (LUV) could be more profitable.

 

US Airways President Scott Kirby said at a recent conference that investors don't appreciate the magnitude of the changes airlines made to cope with $147-a-barrel oil.

 

On Tuesday, light, sweet crude closed at $90.06, down about 40% from its midsummer peak.

 

The Amex Airline Index, which closed Tuesday at 15.92, is languishing at 67% below its 52-week high, set one year ago today.

 

JPMorgan analyst Jamie Baker says that if current fuel prices are sustained and combined with airlines' steep cutbacks in flight schedules, even a recession of record proportions is unlikely to keep them from making money next year. Losses this year could reach $8 billion.

 

Northwest (NWA) CEO Doug Steenland said recently his carrier would be profitable with oil at $100 a barrel.

 

Baker argues that the most recent $20 reduction in oil prices alone insulates airlines from a 6% fall in annual revenues. Revenues have never fallen by that much in previous recessions:

 

•In 1991, recession caused only a 2% drop in airlines' annual revenues.

 

•In the 12 months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks — a period that included the bursting of the dot-com stock bubble and a mild recession — annual revenues dropped just 1%.

 

•In 2003, fears about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) caused a 40% drop in revenues on trans-Pacific routes, and worries ahead of the start of the Iraq war drove an 8% drop in domestic revenues. Yet, annual revenues for all of 2003 fell just 3%.

 

If oil prices return to their summer levels, the prospects for 2009 airline profits would disappear. But most analysts now discount that possibility.

 

Merrill Lynch last week forecast an average 2009 crude price of $90, but added that the price could drop to around $50 a barrel in the "unlikely event of a global recession."

 

Even before getting a break from falling oil prices, airlines were committed to big capacity cuts. Domestic capacity this fall will be down 10% to 12% vs. the fall of 2007, while 2009's overall capacity drop is expected to go even deeper into double digits.

 

Airlines last week reported that September demand fell sharply, but flying capacity fell even more.

 

That gives airlines the ability to preserve sizable fare and fee increases imposed earlier this year.

 

Fonte: http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/200...e-outlook_N.htm

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