Four Airlines Report Earnings, Three Post Profits

Last Updated Jul 22, 2009 10:14 AM EDT

Yesterday, four airlines reported results, and only one of them reported a loss. Shocking, considering how much gloom and doom has been out there, right? Well, don't get too excited. Nobody is really happy right now.

Allegiant reported a strong profit, of course, but I'll touch on that one in a later post. So, let's start with Southwest. They actually did squeak out a profit of $59 million or about half their total from last year. That was a little better than analyst expectations. The third quarter, however, isn't necessarily going to push out the same results. Demand has continued to weaken for the airline (and for everyone), so the third quarter could be trouble.

Cash, cash equivalents, and short term investments were sitting at $2.2 billion at the end of the quarter, but that has been bumped up to $2.4 billion as of this week thanks to an additional $124 million deal loan that closed this month.

Now United's profit was a bit more smoke and mirrors than anything else. The $28 million profit you've seen splashed all over the place is actually just accounting fun based on non-cash hedging gains. If we're talking about actual earnings net of special items, the airline posted a $323 million loss. That's actually better than most expected, but demand also looks pretty rough going forward, as expected. United has about $2.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents.

Continental was the last to report yesterday, and they turned in a loss of $169 million net of special items.

Despite the seemingly cheery results for three of the four, nobody seemed completely upbeat. There's still a lot of anxiety regarding when demand is going to start bouncing back.