Southwest's profit slips on higher costs

Southwest Airlines passenger planes are seen at Chicago's Midway Airport in Illnois May 31, 2012. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/GettyImages) KAREN BLEIER

DALLAS Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) says fourth-quarter earnings fell by nearly half on higher spending for fuel, labor and maintenance.

But the airline's revenue is rising because the average fare is almost $8 higher than a year ago.

Southwest said Thursday that net income was $78 million, or 11 cents per share. That's down from $152 million, or 20 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items such as fuel contracts, the profit would have been 9 cents per share, beating the 7-cent forecast among analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Revenue was up 1.6 percent, but expenses rose 3.1 percent.

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