US Airways Shares Surged: What You Need to Know


Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of airline holding company US Airways Group (NYS: LCC) were flying high today, gaining as much as 24% in intraday trading after the company reported better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter.

So what: US Airways bucked the tough headwind of high jet fuel prices to post an adjusted $0.13-per-share profit for the fourth quarter. That is a drop from $0.17 in per-share profit in the final quarter of 2010, but well ahead of the average analyst estimate of $0.02.

Strong demand and increasing revenue per passenger helped drive the company's quarterly results. US Airways CEO Doug Parker highlighted the fact that the company set records in the fourth quarter for passenger revenue per seat mile as well as overall passenger revenue, total revenue, operating reliability, and on-time performance.

Now what: It certainly looks like a laudable quarter for US Airways and if the company can get a break from the commodity markets, investors may see even better profits ahead. However, with airlines subject to high capital costs while selling a fairly commoditized product, this Fool has a strong bias against airline stocks. Sure, for traders they make great fodder because they have a tendency toward big swings -- as we see today -- but for long-term investors the results from air carries have generally been lackluster at best.

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