WestJet reports record full-year results

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CALGARY, Canada – WestJet today announced its fourth quarter and year-end results for 2015, with record full-year net earnings of $367.5 million, or $2.92 per diluted share. This compares with the adjusted net earnings1 of $317.2 million, or $2.46 per diluted share reported in the full-year 2014, up 16 percent and 19 percent, respectively. For the fourth quarter, the airline reported diluted earnings per share of $0.51, down 27 percent from $0.70 reported last year. These fourth quarter 2015 results include a pre-tax loss on foreign exchange of $10.1 million.

This represents WestJet’s 43rd consecutive quarter of profitability and based on the trailing twelve months, the airline achieved a return on invested capital of 15.3 percent, compared with the 16.1 percent reported in the previous quarter, and within WestJet’s target range of 13 to 16 percent.

“Today we reported the third best fourth quarter in WestJet’s history to complete a record year in 2015. Notwithstanding the impact that recent economic weakness in Alberta has had on our results, our decision to increase our normal course issuer bid demonstrates our confidence in WestJet’s proven business model and the financial strength of our airline,” said WestJet President and CEO Gregg Saretsky. “My thanks go out to our more than 11,000 WestJetters for all their hard work in driving our continuing success as we look forward to celebrating WestJet’s 20th birthday in 2016, a year which will see the launch of our exciting new wide-body service to London Gatwick.”

Operating highlights (stated in Canadian dollars)

Q4 2015 Q4 2014 Change Full-year
2015 Full-year
2014 Change

Net earnings (millions) $63.4 $90.7 (30.1%) $367.5 $284.0 29.4%
Adjusted net earnings (millions)1 $63.4 $90.7 (30.1%) $367.5 $317.2 15.9%
Diluted earnings per share $0.51 $0.70 (27.1%) $2.92 $2.20 32.7%
Adjusted diluted earnings per share1 $0.51 $0.70 (27.1%) $2.92 $2.46 18.7%
Total revenues (millions) $958.7 $994.4 (3.6%) $4,029.3 $3,976.6 1.3%
Operating margin 11.8% 14.0% (2.2 pts) 14.1% 12.0% 2.1 pts
ASMs (available seat miles) (billions) 6.525 6.378 2.3% 26.902 25.584 5.2%
RPMs (revenue passenger miles) (billions) 5.114 5.081 0.6% 21.526 20.829 3.3%
Load factor 78.4% 79.7% (1.3 pts) 80.0% 81.4% (1.4 pts)
Segment guests 4,893,020 4,826,149 1.4% 20,281,376 19,651,977 3.2%
Yield (revenue per revenue passenger mile)
(cents) 18.75 19.57 (4.2%) 18.72 19.09 (1.9%)
RASM (revenue per available seat mile)
(cents) 14.69 15.59 (5.8%) 14.98 15.54 (3.6%)
CASM (cost per available seat mile)
(cents) 12.97 13.40 (3.2%) 12.86 13.68 (6.0%)
CASM, excluding fuel and employee profit
share (cents)* 10.04 9.21 9.0% 9.46 9.15 3.4%

(1) Full-year 2014 adjusted net earnings exclude an after-tax non-cash loss of $33.2 million recorded in the third quarter of 2014 associated with the previously disclosed sale of 10 of WestJet’s oldest Boeing 737 aircraft. Refer to reconciliations in the accompanying tables for further information regarding calculations.

Normal course issuer bid

Today, WestJet also announced that the Toronto Stock Exchange has approved WestJet’s amendment to its existing normal course issuer bid to increase the maximum number of shares the Company is authorized to purchase from 4 million shares to 6 million shares during the period of May 13, 2015 to May 12, 2016.

Dividend declaration

On February 1, 2016, WestJet’s Board of Directors declared a cash dividend of $0.14 per common voting share and variable voting share for the first quarter of 2016, to be paid on March 31, 2016, to shareholders of record on March 16, 2016. All dividends paid by WestJet are, pursuant to subsection 89(14) of the Income Tax Act, designated as eligible dividends, unless indicated otherwise. An eligible dividend paid to a Canadian resident is entitled to the enhanced dividend tax credit.