Hawaiian Airlines’ parent fell the most in more than 11 years —losing a quarter of its value — as declining fuel surcharges and the strength of the U.S. dollar squeezed revenue.
The fuel fees "have decreased as the price of jet fuel has declined" and are "approaching zero in Japan and Korea," Helane Becker, a Cowen & Co. airline analyst in New York, wrote in a note to investors Friday. "Typically airlines will increase base fares to cover the declines in fuel surcharges if demand is strong."
The dollar’s strength probably also will pressure the carrier’s pricing in some Asia-Pacific markets this year, Becker said.
"Fuel surcharges are just about to go away," Hawaiian Holdings Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Dunkerley said in an interview Thursday after the company posted a 35 percent drop in fourth-quarter earnings.
The company’s profit of $11.1 million included a $12.7 million charge for fuel hedging that it had to expense after the price of jet fuel plunged, and a $2.3 million expense for paying down debt. Excluding those items, Hawaiian’s adjusted income more than doubled to $26.1 million from $12 million in the year-earlier quarter.
Dunkerley said the carrier is being hit by a combination of the strong U.S. currency and the declining fuel fees.
Those two issues will contribute to an expected decline in the airline’s revenue for each seat flown a mile of 3.5 percent to 6.5 percent this quarter, Peter Ingram, the carrier’s chief commercial officer, said Thursday on a conference call.
The shares fell 27 percent to close at $19.44 in New York. It was the biggest loss since June 2003. The stock almost tripled last year, gaining the most among the 11 companies in the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index.
"People just see this company having weaker pricing, and it kind of spooked some people as well," Michael Derchin, an analyst at CRT Capital Group in Stamford, Conn., said in a phone interview Friday. "Something like this happens when a deal falls apart or some kind of big event happens. This was a minor tweak."