Southwest Airlines Co. Reports Operating Results (10-K)
Southwest Airlines Co. has a market cap of $7.51 billion; its shares were traded at around $9.78 with a P/E ratio of 22.9 and P/S ratio of 0.5. The dividend yield of Southwest Airlines Co. stocks is 0.2%. Southwest Airlines Co. had an annual average earning growth of 5.8% over the past 10 years. GuruFocus rated Southwest Airlines Co. the business predictability rank of 2-star.
Highlight of Business Operations:In March 2011, the Company launched its All-New Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program. Under the Companys new frequent flyer program, members earn points for every dollar spent instead of credits for flight segments flown. The amount of points earned is based on the fare and fare class purchased, with higher fare products (e.g., Business Select) earning more points than lower fare products (e.g., Wanna Get Away). Each fare class is associated with a points earning multiplier, and points for flights are calculated by multiplying the fare for the flight by the fare class multiplier. Likewise, the amount of points required to be redeemed for a flight is based on the fare and fare class purchased. However, unlike the Companys previous program, under the new program (i) members are able to redeem their points for every available seat, every day, on every flight, with no blackout dates; and (ii) points do not expire so long as the Rapid Rewards Member has points-earning activity during a 24-month time period.
For the Companys 2011 consolidated results, which include AirTran results from May 2, 2011 through December 31, 2011, Customers of Southwest and AirTran redeemed approximately 3.7 million flight awards, accounting for approximately 8.3 percent of revenue passenger miles flown. Southwest Customers redeemed approximately 3.2 million and 3.0 million flight awards during 2010 and 2009, respectively, accounting for approximately 7.9 percent and 7.7 percent of Southwest revenue passenger miles flown in those years. Although under Southwests new frequent flyer program travel awards are no longer automatically generated, awards and credits earned under Southwests previous frequent flyer program may still be redeemed until their original expiration date. As of December 31, 2011, there were approximately 1.3 million previously issued flight awards still outstanding under the previous program and approximately 2.6 million partially earned awards outstanding. However, the Company believes a significant portion of these flight awards and partially earned awards will expire without being used, as they are not transferable to the Companys new frequent flyer program. Award travel available to members of AirTrans A+ program as of December 31, 2011, was not significant to the Company. The amount of points redeemed by Southwests members and the number of credits redeemed by AirTrans members during 2011 for items other than air travel was not material.
In addition, the Company has taken significant steps towards Required Navigation Performance (RNP) operations. RNP is one of the cornerstones of the FAAs strategy to modernize the U.S. Air Traffic Control System by addressing limitations on air transportation capacity and making more efficient use of airspace. RNP combines the capabilities of advanced aircraft avionics, GPS (Global Positioning System) satellite navigation (instead of less-precise ground-based navigation), and new flight procedures to (i) enable aircraft to carry navigation capabilities rather than relying on airports; (ii) improve operational capabilities by opening up many new and more direct approach paths to produce more efficient flight patterns; and (iii) conserve fuel, improve safety, and reduce carbon emissions. Southwest began developing GPS approach procedures during the first quarter of 2010, completed RNP training of nearly 6,000 pilots in November 2010, and commenced RNP procedures in revenue service in January 2011. In the first twenty days of RNP activation, Southwest performed 1,400 RNP approaches, and, by the end of 2011, Southwest had conducted 6,790 RNP approaches; however, for reasons out of its control, Southwests total number of RNP approaches has slowed to fewer than 400 per month. Southwest must rely on RNP approaches published by the FAA, and the rate of introduction of RNP approaches has been slower than expected, with RNP approaches currently available at only 17 airports. In addition, even at airports with approved RNP approaches, the clearance required from air traffic controllers to perform RNP approaches is often not granted. As a result, in the second half of 2011, the Company decided not to equip its Classic (737-300/500) aircraft with RNP capabilities.
The Companys business is somewhat seasonal. Generally, in most markets the Company serves, demand for air travel is greater during the summer months, and therefore, revenues in the airline industry tend to be stronger in the second (April 1 June 30) and third (July 1 September 30) quarters of the year than in the first (January 1 March 31) and fourth (October 1 December 31) quarters of the year. As a result, in many cases, the Companys results of operations reflect this seasonality. Factors that could alter this seasonality include, among others, the price of fuel, general economic conditions, extreme or severe weather, fears of terrorism or war, or changes in the competitive environment. Therefore, the Companys quarterly operating results are not necessarily indicative of operating results for the entire year and historical operating results in a quarterly or annual period are not necessarily indicative of future operating results.
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