February 13, 2008 / 1:42 PM / 10 years ago

WestJet profit lifted by demand

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Fourth-quarter profit at WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) nearly tripled as strong demand and a big one-time tax adjustment lifted results, Canada’s No. 2 passenger carrier said on Wednesday.

WestJet, which has been expanding its network in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean, earned $75.4 million, or 57 Canadian cents a share during the quarter, up from a year-earlier profit of C$26.7 million, or 21 cents a share.

Excluding a $33.7 million tax adjustment, WestJet said earnings rose 56 percent to $41.7 million, or 32 cents a share.

Analysts were expecting an average forecast of 27 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue was $553.4 million, up 22 percent from $452.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2006.

    Full-year earnings rose 68 percent to $192.8 million, or $1.47 a share, from $114.7 million, or 88 cents a share. Revenue increased nearly 22 percent to $2.15 billion.

    WestJet, which has enjoyed strong Canadian industry conditions despite a downturn among many U.S. airlines, said its results were helped by cost controls, record load factor and market share gains.

    The stock, which closed at $17.30 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday, has gained about 12 percent over the last 12 months.

    Reporting by Susan Taylor

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