Southwest Airlines stock experienced a significant decline prior to the market opening on Thursday, as the low-cost carrier announced an expected decrease in revenue per available seat mile for the third quarter. In addition, the airline warned investors of higher costs for the full year, largely due to increased labor rates and wage accruals.
Despite reporting adjusted earnings of $1.09 per share, which aligned with analysts' expectations, Southwest's earnings were lower than the $1.30 per share reported in the same period last year. However, the airline did achieve a record quarterly revenue of $7.04 billion, surpassing estimated revenues of $6.98 billion.
Investors are particularly concerned about the potential impact of a domestic slowdown during the third quarter, a concern previously raised by Alaska Air. This issue appears to extend beyond Alaska Air (ticker: ALK) and is affecting Southwest (LUV), the largest domestic airline in the United States. Southwest anticipates a decrease in revenue per available seat mile ranging from 3% to 7% in the September quarter. This metric is a valuable indicator of pricing strength within the industry.
Southwest attributes this decline to "challenging comparisons from the pent-up travel demand surge in 2022," which seems to be a reasonable explanation. While the airline still projects record operating revenue and another profitable quarter in the third quarter, the normalization or slowdown of domestic demand is likely to raise concerns among investors and lead to negative market performance for the sector's stocks.
In response to these revelations, Southwest's stock fell by 6% during premarket trading on Thursday.
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