Southwest Airlines today reported its 70th consecutive quarterly operating profit, but upon a closer look, the company, long known for its fuel hedging prowess, took a substantial loss due to declining fuel costs.
From the earnings release:
After special charges totaling $247 million primarily related to mark-to-market adjustments on a portion of the future periods' fuel hedge portfolio required by Statement of Financial Accounting Standard (SFAS) 133, "Accounting for Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities," as amended, the Company reported a third quarter 2008 net loss of $120 million, or $.16 loss per diluted share. This compares to net income of $162 million, or $.22 per diluted share, for third quarter 2007. Excluding these special charges and other special items, the Company reported third quarter 2008 net income of $69 million, or $.09 per diluted share, compared to $156 million, or $.21 per diluted share, for third quarter 2007.
For an excellent primer on How airlines hedge fuel risks, see this story from our September issue.