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ALK Alaska Air Group 2Q 2018 Results - Results Transcript

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Brandnon R. Oglenski - Barclays Capital, Inc.

I would like to welcome all participants to the conference call to announce the second quarterly results of the Alaska Air Group. Now I would like to forward the call to the Director of Investor Relations of the Alaska Air Group, Matt Grady. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Ladies and Gentlemen, good mornings and thank you very much for having joined us for our profit call in the second quater of 2018.

At today's conference call, our Chief Executive Officer, Brad Tilden, will give an outline of the Company; our Chief Commercial Officer, Andrew Harrison, will report on our sales results and prospects; and our CFO, Brandon Pedersen, will talk about our costs and our future operating results. Early this morning, Alaska Air Group announced net profit of $193 million for the second quarter according to AASP.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Petrol costs have risen consistently for 10 consecutive quarteres and are about $1 per gal higher than in the first three months of 2016. We have concentrated very hard and taken our people to the top in a time of significant changes, changes and expansion.

It has been a tough company and has achieved a number of important successes that have paved the way for our long-term expansion and our continued prosperity. Speaking of the work ahead, I would like to mention some of the most important achievements of our staff in the second half of the year. Alaska is a country where we have such a special cultural heritage, which determines our prosperity.

1 percent in the second quater, four points more than in the previous year. Our guest's continuing appreciation is amazing and we would like to compliment all our staff on the sophisticated services that make Alaska what it is. That means we focus on achieving significant sales growth while strictly controlling our workforce's levels of efficiency and overheads.

Within the ecosystem, we proactively manage ROIC objectives at store levels to adjust overall capability and distribution. We have made several positive changes to our networks that will impact this and next quarterly, and slow our 2019 sales increase to 2%. Next, we will further segment our products in terms of sales in order to more directly competing with the base economic tariffs that have been prevailing in our stores for several consecutive months.

Mr Andrew and Mr Brandon will soon be talking more about these three priorities. Alaska' s immaterial assets have always made it possible to be different, and we believe that they will help us to be different in the years to come. Most of the times behind us, we spend more with our staff by tackling their problems, assisting them to be strengthened and feeling strengthened, and fostering the feeling of collaboration and fellowship that leads to a real and thoughtful experience that puts Alaska on the map and has allowed us to compet efficiently with far more far-reaching carriers.

I would like to conclude with a comment on the 2019 production year. In view of the very sharp rise in the price of fuels in recent years and a production climate that has not adapted sufficiently to this, we have lowered our production rate to 2% in 2019. Like we said in previous appeals, we want to be good managers of our assets, and in this context we simply do not see the yields that warrant higher rates of return.

Given the competition advantage we have, however, we assume that there will be a period in the medium run in which higher levels of economic expansion will again make good business for us and our shareholders. We are very much heartened by the increase in our loyalties. Alaska Air Group, Inc.

Overall Q2 income increased 3% to USD 2.2 billion with 7.8% increase in production capacities. Incidentally, as we reported at our last conference call, the second half of the year saw our highest annual increase in capacities, the highest increase in competition capacities and a tough comparison with Easter. It is our aim to make it easier for our customers to make trips with premiums, but we have to reconcile this with the associated watering down of income.

We have already made the necessary changes in the allocation of seating and take-back pricing, so that the effects of higher take-backs will weaken by the end of the year. Turning to the outlook, I'd like to add more colour to our results, about 3 points of our 5-point RASM drop have been carried by peer to peer stores and the other 2 points have resulted from new stores, and I'll be addressing each one of those issues individually.

In the first place, same-store stores or stores that have been in service for more than 12 month, 1 point of decrease came from the postponement at the time of Easter, while another 1 point of decrease came from the postponement at the time of Easter. Given the take-back situation we see in our booking for the rest of the year, we assume that this 150 bp wind will persist in the third trimester, but will be modest thereafter.

Apart from 5 headwind points, the sales of the units with the same branches would have stayed almost unchanged for the third quarter. 4.5 % of the sales of the units with the same branches were generated in the third quarter. 6.3 % of the sales of the units with the same branches were generated in the third half of the year. Overall, our key Pacific Northwest Pacific market remains buoyant in terms of overall price levels and consumer acceptance of our premium class products remains above our projections. Whilst competition was still high and prices in California were still weak overall, we have seen an increase in prices over the last 30 trading day, leading us to gain dynamism in Q3 and Q4.

With regard to new or less than 12 month operating stores, these represented the residual 2 declines. At 9% of total sales of the ASM, new capacities remain high this month, but will decrease over the next two consecutive quarters, with new capacities accounting for 6% of total sales of the ASM in the third and only 3% in the fourth three months.

The recent development of these countries has been encouraging, particularly in terms of volumes, and we anticipate that they will help to boost sales during the course of this year, as many of them will begin their annualised development in September. As we look to the future, our own sales are slowing to 5.9% in the third and 3.1% in the final three months, and competitiveness on the basis of today's planning is declining from 7.4% in the second to around 5% in the third and final four months, preparing us for a sequence of sales improvements over the next two consecutive months.

From this autumn, we will enhance the Airbus aircraft sales performance by changing the cab configurations and increasing the number of passengers.

Strengthening our competitiveness in the transcontinental market. Those are 31% of our networks as we exchange bigger Boeing planes with better flight segments and more ways to rewards our top customers with up-grades. In December, we will be launching our Saver Fare franchise, which will generate significant sales potential in excess of $100 million per year.

And, as we said last quarterly, these changes are another $50 million chance, of which we anticipate $20 million in the second half of 2018, as these initiative are now on the shelves. Lastly, we believe that we will profit from the new opportunities that we introduced in 2017 and 2018 as we matured, and that we will only enter a few new opportunities in 2019.

At this time when our teams are fully committed to achieving higher margin and return in the future, our choice to lower our rate of increase in production to 2% by 2019 will be beneficial to both sales and earnings. Our expectation for 2020 continues to be 4% increase in capacities, and as Brad has already said, we believe that our lasting competitiveness advantage will allow us to achieve higher mid- to long-term gains than our industrial and BIP output.

I' ll use it to forward the call to Brandon. Alaska Air Group, Inc. The Air Group reported net income of $206 million, or $1.66 per common share, for the second three months of the year. The results reflected the earnings pressure we were facing, significantly higher oil price levels and a gradual rise in personnel expenses.

I will repeat the topic you have already been told that these results are not the "new normal" for Alaska. I, too, would like to add a little more colour to our choice to reduce our 2019 sales expansion. In our opinion, the slow down in the pace of economic development makes good business sense, because with the present level of fuels and industrial capacities, we simply do not see the same chance of achieving the return we are aiming for.

We are solid in return enhancement modes and 2% increase will help us get there because it improves our capability to administer tariffs in such a way that we can recover the increase in costs we have seen. As our 4% target before it, the 2% target allows us to take advantage of the significant expansion we have had in the last five years, but shows once again that Alaska is ready to adjust capacities as needed.

In the second sequential period, our carbon-mexel (CASMex) sales increased 2%, well below our original quarterly forecast. Fuels were a key driving force behind our margins in this period. Although our propellant cost is high, our WTI call option has reduced our propellant cost by approximately $9 million, and on the basis of the present forward graph, we anticipate that these hedging transactions will allow us to achieve similar savings in the third calendar month.

For the third quarter, we now anticipate that the material costs will increase by about 5%, as the 6% increase in capacities is slightly higher than our most recent forecast in April, due to the postponements and the fact that capacities are growing less. From now on, we also anticipate that full-year costs per item will be 3.2% or 30 basis points better than our forecast of lower 30 basis point rate increases.

As far as the bottom line is concerned, I would first like to emphasize that our sales and expense programs are aimed at improving both our EPS and our net working capital. Our quarterly lease adjustment is 52%, our net indebtedness is 1.4% or 20% below the sector averages, and we have 83 aircraft in our portfoliocapes.

Finally, I would like to repeat what we have been trying to communicate over the last 25 min - that we have completed most of the full process of integrating and we are now working financial on sales and expense initiative to ensure that the business we are developing can generate much higher return on investment than it is today.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Brandon, a quick one. You' re obviously attracting your extra capacities to start next year. Then, just in terms of that, I don't think your CapeEx numbers are changing despite the increasing capacities, so would just a few colors on both be great?

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Hey, Rajeev, this is Ben Minicucci. Normally Brandon would accept this CASM issue, but I think I'll go ahead and get Brandon to play. Second, this networking plan is, we are working with Andrew to make this networking plan right, the optimization for sales and profits as well as costs and profitability is crucial for us as we are calibrating our 2% increase in our business.

In all of this, we are optimistic about how we will tackle CASM with the 2% increase we are implementing. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Hey, Rajeev, it's Brandon, good mornin', I'll take the second part of the part. They asked: Has CapeEx declined given the lower rates of economic expansion?

The thing we will do to accomodate the lower capacitance is simply to try to get the modes and colors done faster, which I think is great in the end for the customer experiences and for our capability to go through the process of full and better things.

Brandon, this is obviously for you, too? Alaska Air Group, Inc. I would say that we had a very aggresive approach to budgeting the cost of the merger to get it to reduce 4% incremental overrun. Alaska Air Group, Inc.

Brandon, this investor day. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Goal for 2019 budget forecast. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc.

If I look at some of the changes in capacities you've made, it's good that you're trying to do the right thing, and it looks like maybe those stores that aren't so relatively positive, or even maybe they're relatively thin, from which you're withdrawing. Perhaps you just want to bid this Loyal Alaska Passenger that - rather than it's the Chicago Passanger or you have less linking passengers, I mean that becomes a possible interest?

Alaska Air Group, Inc. And, as I told you on the previous call, for the first truly recent period, we have begun to destroy the old Virgin Network, where we felt that the capacities and market we were piloting were not the right ones.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. However, if I look at Alaska before the combination, you're spent - the extra efforts beyond Seattle, Portland, and so on, California's second tier towns have grown and you've built a beautiful local community. I see today that on the one side you have the southwest in the secondaries on your back and the legacy in the primaries on your back, and I have seen your timetable change and you somehow move back and forth.

In my opinion, can Alaska retain a high profile and relevancy in both the California market and the California market and still meet its profitability targets? Alaska Air Group, Inc. One thing I would fall back on is that Alaska has a genuine edge that we believe in. So, we very much believe in the competitiveness that Alaska has.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. To what degree have you included this increase in your sales forecast for the third quarter? Alaska Air Group, Inc. Yeah, hi, Duane, this is Shane Tackett. I think we're just still hopeful as we move through Q3 and Q4, not only what we see in a kind of price setting is stabilising a little, but also all the sales initiative and synergies that are starting to unfold that Andrew hinted at in the script.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. As Andrew said in the screenplay, I just want to remember people that last times we were talking about actually having 5 or 6 different income streams that amounted to $150 million. We expect to be a little less than that because we have a slightly more generously sized range of products and are a little less dependent on the net of revenues, but we somehow base it on what we know are what other take councils are.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Just as Shane also referred to on these long-haul routes, these income earning activities, which we are implementing and which have already begun and above all are strengthening the luxury segment. Alaska Air Group, Inc.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc.

Somehow I loathe to ask a modelling Question, but you have mention the RASM consecutive improvements in Q3 and Q4, or you know that the pursuit of this result in - you already know that the focus of the concise third quarterly guidance that you have given today means a consecutive improvements over the value of $0. 1281 that you have reached in the second trimester.

So, are you actually leading to a RASM in the 4th quater in cent per miles that's higher than the third quater, because if that's the real guideline, I think it's pretty sound and well ahead of the normal season switch that's expected from Q3 to Q4? Alaska Air Group, Inc.

But I think if you just do the math - the revenues initiative so to speak, and if you look at a stabilised price level while we bridge all the new activities that we had in Q3 and Q4 last year, then it has put us in a good position for the 4thQ.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Okay. Brandon S. Pedersen - Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc.

Certainly. Bradley D. Tilden - Alaska Air Group, Inc. They are very, very ordinary revenues managment tools in the business and I think they generally make a great deal of difference and it's not strange to me that others take them on at this point. Okay. Bradley D. Tilden - Alaska Air Group, Inc.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. You' ve been a big part of the freight in the state of Alaska, especially the mail. Alaska Air Group, Inc. We have a great client analysis group and we have something named Alaska Listens where we ask the Net Promoter scores.

We have some opportunities, I think, to discuss these U.S. postal service recent incidents I am not too up to date about them unless someone else is that our - I can tell you our present staff is highly-motivated and will take every chance to ensure that we generate as much sales as possible.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Something I just want to point out, Helane, in the state of Alaska, the post works a little differently. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Hey, Brandon, I just wanted to be clear. Is your 2% ASM increase not allowing you to keep your carbon footprint low to low? Alaska Air Group, Inc. It' s hard to find a way to lower CASM with 2% ASM growing, but that doesn't mean we won't work on it.

Are these Alaskaoyalists only taking the benefits of dislocating in some of the offers and only taking the benefits of some perhaps temporary low pricing points? Alaska Air Group, Inc. There are about 150 base points of dragging in this trimester, it will be the same in the next one.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. So, the non-fuel cost probably went up a bit next year, but you were quite clear that you were looking for a spread, so the revenues are going up even more, I suppose. Alaska Air Group, Inc. And Inter-Cal is only 2.5% of our overall capacitance, just to put that into context.

What I really think your answer to your query is what we see is a gradual enhancement in these new emerging market on a few tiers throughout the system is capacity and capacity will be much greater. Many of these market places are also occupied by local jets, and Shane and the staff are getting better and better at selling Premium Class and First Class in these areas.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. This is Brandon. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Specifically, I think Dan, what we really like about Hawaii, and you saw that in the 4th trim we made changes across the Pacific Northwest and California, as well as our frequency levels.

However, more significantly, the changes we have talked about, the premier range, the saver fares, the alter fee and all these yield increases, make California a very powerful beneficiary of this yield growth and improved return on investment. So, we really are feeling good about our HAWAI networking, its strengths and the income streams we are implementing, as well as the savings, will go directly to the HAWAI Franchise.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Okay. Benito Minicucci - Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Dan, the figure - that's Brandon, the figure we're really reaching is at divisional levels, as Ben said, and it's obviously going to be much more granular than that at HD and SP and that's what we're focusing on, on a day-to-day base, to move the deal forward.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Obviously, one is to sell income ticket sales and the other is to further develop the fidelity programme, which also generates significant savings through both ticket sales and passenger purchases.

Then, if you're thinking about going from 4% to 2%, I think you've spoken a little about it, but maybe a little more detail would be useful, like where those two points come out and there's a Hawaiian type store where there's going to be a lot of clear amount of storage next year, that's somewhere where you could cut down and finance storage elsewhere, how should we think about that?

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Basically, the simplest way to think about the 2019 2% capability is all we've said and begun this year is until next year. So, if we announce new market opportunities or changes that only benefit you, we will tear down and reassign other areas of our team.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. The next one is from Brandon Oglenski's line with Barclays. Brandnon R. Oglenski - Barclays Capital, Inc. Do you know that it's just harder to be number two or number three in some of these larger California stores, and you just don't get the return or income or recognition you thought you would get from customers there if you raised your show?

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Well, no, thank you, Brandon. That's a good one. I say we, having been here for a long while now, have worked for a long, long period in some of these countries to build a loyal base and build a franchise that we have built.

What I think has really happening is that when we purchased, we entered many of these stores, there was increased market pressure and some of us developed new aircraft ourselves. If we look at this now, I think we are - you've seen the last few phone conversations, we've downgraded our own capacities, and we just keep making the smartest networking choices we can.

Brandnon R. Oglenski - Barclays Capital, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Brandnon R. Oglenski - Barclays Capital, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc. Alaska Air Group, Inc.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Thank you very much for your interest in Alaska and we look forward to speaking to you again in three month's timeframe.

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