Delta expects profits to take off next year

Delta Air Lines’ stock got a boost earlier today after the Atlanta-based airline said it expects profits next year to be solid.

The largest carrier serving Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport said it will also end this year with an $800 million profit. According to an Associated Press report, analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting adjusted net income of $977 million.

The stock opened at $8.20 Wednesday, but reached as high as $8.34 before settling back to around its opening price. The stock (ticker DAL) remains well off its 52-week high of $13.73, but well above it’s 52-week low of $3.51.

Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said even higher fuel prices won’t put a crimp in strong earnings expected next year, when the carrier is also expected to cut flying by 2 to 3 percent, which will help cut expenses. Higher fares also have prompted the carrier to raise its current quarterly operating margin outlook.

Delta is pouring a lot of money into its hubs  to remain competitive. In New York, it has launched an overhaul at JFK Airport and plans to expand operations at LaGuardia Airport after closing a deal with US Airways to transfer takeoff and landing rights at LaGuardia and at Washington D.C.’s Reagan National airports. The company also hopes to benefit from the new international terminal opening at Hartsfield-Jackson in 2012.

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