Air Canada feels impact from currency flux, but Q4 adjusted earnings rise

MONTREAL – A bigger hit from foreign exchange fluctuations contributed to a $100-million fourth-quarter net loss at Air Canada (TSX:AC), although the company’s adjusted net income improved dramatically to $67 million.

Air Canada said the net loss amounted to 35 cents per diluted share, while its adjusted net income amounted to 23 cents.

Analysts had estimated 24 cents per share of adjusted earnings, according to Thomson Reuters data.

A year earlier, Air Canada’s net loss for the fourth quarter of 2013 was $6 million or two cents per share while its adjusted net income was $3 million or one cent per share.

The adjusted income excludes several routine items including a $115-million foreign exchange loss during last year’s fourth quarter, which was more than double the $55 million loss recorded in 2013.

The adjusted income also excluded a $30-million onetime item related to a new contract with Air Canada’s pilots, ratified in October, and an $82-million unusual gain in 2013 from amendments to benefit plans.

Revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31 improved to $3.1 billion, up 7.2 per cent or $210 million from a year earlier.

Air Canada chief executive Calin Rovinescu says the airline served nearly three million more customers in 2014, including those that flew on its low-cost Rouge service.

He said the airline expects significant cost savings from the drop in oil prices but noted the environment remains volatile.

The price of a benchmark barrel of crude oil – used to make jet fuel, among other things – began to drop sharply the middle of the 2014 fourth quarter on its way to a six-year low in early 2015. It’s currently trading at about US$50 a barrel.

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