Delta reports wider loss as analysts warn of bankruptcy

Wednesday, October 20th 2004, 4:23 pm
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ Delta Air Lines Inc. reported a wide third-quarter loss Wednesday despite an increase in revenue, missing Wall Street's already reduced expectations.

The nation's third-largest carrier, which said last Friday it was weeks away from being forced to file for bankruptcy, lost $651 million, or $5.16 a share, for the three months ending Sept. 30.

Analysts believe the airline has only a few weeks left to win $1 billion in concessions from pilots and restructure its heavy debt to avoid a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

The union said in a memo released Wednesday that the two sides continue to meet and are making progress on an overall agreement, but there are still significant issues to resolve. The memo did not elaborate.

Shares of Delta fell 9 cents, or 3 percent, to $2.90 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Delta blames high fuel and pilot costs as major contributors to its continued losses, which have surpassed $6 billion in the last three years. Gerald Grinstein, Delta's chief executive officer, said ``time is of the essence'' for the airline to win concessions from its pilots.

Excluding one-time items, Delta said it lost $592 million, or $4.73 a share, in the July-September period. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had expected a loss of $4.38 a share, an estimate that was reduced after Delta warned of its loss on Friday.

In the same period a year ago, the company lost $168 million, or $1.36 a share. The current loss includes $5 million Delta paid out in dividends to preferred stockholders.

Revenue in the third quarter was $3.87 billion, a 5.9 percent increase from the $3.66 billion Delta recorded a year ago.

For the first nine months of the this year, Delta said its net loss was $3.01 billion, or $24.06 a share, compared with a loss of $458 million, or $3.71 a share, in the year-ago period.