Thu, Nov 01, 2007 - Page 11 News List

China Airlines announces strong net profit increase

HIGHER DEMAND The nation's largest air carrier posted a stellar net income of NT$775 million in the third quarter, compared with a net income of NT$117 million last year

BLOOMBERG

China Airlines Ltd (中華航空), the nation's largest carrier, posted an almost sevenfold increase in third quarter profits because of higher demand for passenger flights and gains from currency and fuel hedging.

Net income surged to NT$775 million (US$24 million) from NT$117 million a year earlier. The numbers were derived by subtracting six-month results from nine-month figures released yesterday. Sales rose 5.5 percent to NT$34 billion, the company's monthly stock exchange filing showed.

China Airlines follows EVA Airways Corp (長榮航空) in posting higher profits in the period as economic growth boosts travel demand. The carrier also benefited from fuel hedging and surcharges, said Stone Lin, an analyst at Yuanta Core Pacific Securities Co (元大京華證券).

"They did better than we thought in passing on fuel costs," he said.

Lin has a "buy" recommendation on the stock.

Net income beat the NT$61 million median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of three analysts. Hedging allows airlines to lock in future fuel prices to protect against possible increases.

The airline's gains in financial asset values in the first nine months rose to NT$924 million from NT$155 million a year earlier, it said in a Taiwan Stock Exchange statement, without elaboration.

The company boosted third-quarter passenger sales 6.3 percent. Passenger services accounted for 53 percent of sales, with cargo contributing 42 percent.

A China Airlines plane burst into flames after landing at Naha Airport, Japan, on Aug. 20, helping lead to the resignation of chairman Philip Wei (魏幸雄). No one was seriously hurt in the incident.

September sales rose 5.9 percent from a year earlier, following the crash, slower than the 7.8 percent gain in August.

China Airlines shares fell 0.7 percent to close at NT$14.90 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange.

The stock has climbed 1 percent this year, compared with a 24 percent gain for the benchmark TAIEX and EVA Air's 3.7 percent fall.

The company posted a loss of NT$93.2 million in the nine months ended September, compared with a net income of NT$245 million a year earlier, its statement showed.

Taiwan residents made 3.7 percent more trips overseas during the first seven months of the year, while incoming visitor numbers rose 4.4 percent, the Directorate-General of Budgeting, Accounting and Statistics said last month.

The nation's economy will probably expand 4.58 percent this year, the bureau said in August.

The investigation into why the Boeing Co 737 caught fire on Aug. 20 is still under way. The carrier also grounded a similar aircraft on Sept. 20 because of a maintenance problem.

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