News Releases

WestJet reports fourth quarter and full-year results

Airline flies a record number of guests and achieves its 51st consecutive profitable quarter

CALGARY, Feb. 6, 2018 /CNW/ - WestJet (TSX: WJA) today announced its fourth quarter and year-end results for 2017, with full-year net earnings of $283.6 million, or $2.42 per diluted share. This compares with net earnings of $295.5 million, or $2.45 per diluted share reported in the full-year 2016. The airline achieved its 51st consecutive quarter of profitability, reporting fourth quarter net earnings of $48.5 million, or $0.42 per diluted share compared to $55.2 million, or $0.47 per diluted share reported in the fourth quarter of 2016. For the full-year and in each quarter of 2017, the airline flew a record number of guests. Based on the trailing twelve months, the airline recorded a return on invested capital of 10.0 per cent, down 0.2 percentage points from the 10.2 per cent reported in the previous quarter.

"In 2017, we continued our evolution toward becoming a global airline while flying a record number of guests and achieving our highest annual load factor in our history. We announced an agreement to enter a joint venture with Delta Airlines, which will give Canadians more access to our low fares and growing network. We also proudly took delivery of Canada's first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft this fall, and it was in service with high reliability before the busy holiday season," said WestJet President and CEO Gregg Saretsky. "WestJetters care to the core by safely providing our guests with award-winning and friendly service every day. I thank each of the more than 13,000 WestJetters for their work and dedication this quarter, especially in light of the severe cold and weather-related operational challenges."

Operating highlights (stated in Canadian dollars)


Q4 2017

Q4 2016

Change

Full-year
2017

Full-year
2016

Change

Net earnings (millions)

$48.5

$55.2

(12.2%)

$283.6

$295.5

(4.0%)

Diluted earnings per share

$0.42

$0.47

(10.6%)

$2.42

$2.45

(1.2%)

Total revenue (millions)

$1,117.4

$1,017.8

9.8%

$4,502.3

$4,122.9

9.2%

Operating margin

7.0%

8.4%

(1.4 pts)

9.7%

10.7%

(1.0 pts)

ASMs (available seat miles) (billions)

7.659

7.253

5.6%

30.998

29.298

5.8%

RPMs (revenue passenger miles) (billions)

6.329

5.816

8.8%

25.904

23.968

8.1%

Load factor

82.6%

80.2%

2.4 pts

83.6%

81.8%

1.8 pts

Segment guests

6,010,069

5,424,052

10.8%

24,137,477

21,951,463

10.0%

Yield (revenue per revenue passenger mile) (cents)

17.66

17.50

0.9%

17.38

17.20

1.0%

RASM (revenue per available seat mile) (cents)

14.59

14.03

4.0%

14.52

14.07

3.2%

CASM (cost per available seat mile) (cents)

13.57

12.86

5.5%

13.11

12.57

4.3%

CASM, excluding fuel and employee profit share (cents)*

10.23

9.87

3.6%

9.89

9.75

1.4%

*Refer to reconciliations in the accompanying tables for further information regarding calculations.

 

Dividend declaration
On February 5, 2018, 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 2018, to be paid on March 30, 2018, to shareholders of record on March 14, 2018. 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.

Caution regarding forward-looking information
Certain information set forth in this news release is forward-looking information within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Such forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to, information respecting the proposed joint venture; the anticipated benefits, amenities, and product offerings expected to be provided to customers as a result of the joint venture; the resulting impact on flight schedules, and other network effects; and implementation of the joint venture following receipt of required approvals and execution of definitive agreements. The forward-looking information contained in this news release is based on certain material factors and assumptions, including, without limitation, with respect to: negotiation of definitive agreements relating to the joint venture on terms and conditions satisfactory to the parties; receipt, in a timely manner and on acceptable terms, of applicable regulatory approvals in respect of the transaction; board approvals being obtained; and the anticipated benefits of the joint venture, including strategic and operational opportunities and benefits. Although WestJet believes that the expectations and assumptions on which such forward-looking statements are based are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on the forward-looking statements as WestJet can give no assurance that they will prove to be correct. By its nature, forward-looking information is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, some of which are beyond WestJet's control. The risks and uncertainties that may impact WestJet include, but are not limited to: potential delays in obtaining applicable regulatory approvals; challenges to the proposed joint venture, or the imposition of conditions in respect thereof, by applicable regulatory authorities that reduce the anticipated benefits of the joint venture or prevent the implementation of such on satisfactory terms or at all; the ability of WestJet to successfully implement its strategic initiatives and whether such strategic initiatives will yield the expected benefits; the inherent uncertainties associated with new projects; changes in general economic and competitive conditions; and operational risks inherent in implementing the joint venture including risks related to route scheduling and operations, network management, and information technology and reporting systems. The forward-looking information contained in this news release is also based on WestJet's current forecasts and strategy, the expected demand environment, the utilization of our fleet, the forward-curve for jet fuel price, the expected exchange rate of the Canadian dollar to the U.S. dollar, agreements and bookings, but may vary due to factors including, but not limited to, changes in guest demand, changes in fuel prices, delays in aircraft delivery, general economic conditions, competitive environment, ability to effectively implement and maintain critical systems and other factors and risks described in WestJet's public reports and filings which are available under WestJet's profile at sedar.com. Readers are cautioned that undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking information as actual results may vary materially from the forward-looking information. WestJet does not undertake to update, correct or revise any forward-looking information as a result of any new information, future events or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable law.

Non-GAAP measures
This news release contains disclosure respecting non-GAAP performance measures including, without limitation, CASM, excluding fuel and employee profit share and return on invested capital. These measures are included to enhance the overall understanding of WestJet's current financial performance and to provide an alternative method for assessing WestJet's operating results in a manner that is focused on the performance of WestJet's ongoing operations, and to provide a more consistent basis for comparison between reporting periods. These measures are not calculated in accordance with, or an alternative to, GAAP and do not have standardized meanings. Therefore, they may not be comparable to similar measures provided by other entities. Readers are urged to review the section entitled "Reconciliation of non-GAAP and additional GAAP measures" in WestJet's management's discussion and analysis of financial results for the year ended December 31, 2017, which is available under WestJet's profile on SEDAR at sedar.com, for a further discussion of such non-GAAP measures and a reconciliation of such measures to GAAP. The financial information accompanying this news release was prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards unless otherwise noted.

Management's discussion and analysis of financial results and consolidated financial statements and notes for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2017, are available through the Internet in the Media and Investor Relations section of westjet.com or under WestJet's SEDAR profile at sedar.com.

Analyst conference call
WestJet will hold its quarterly analysts' conference call today, February 6, 2018, at 8 a.m. MDT (10 a.m. EDT). President and CEO Gregg Saretsky and Executive Vice-President of Finance and CFO Harry Taylor will discuss WestJet's fourth quarter and year end results and answer questions from financial analysts and members of the media. The conference call will be available in Toronto by calling 416-915-3239, in Vancouver by calling 604-638-5340 and across Canada and the United States through the toll-free telephone number 1-800-319-4610. The call can also be heard live through an Internet webcast accessible via the Media and Investor Relations section of westjet.com.

About WestJet
WestJet is proud to be named Best Airline in Canada and one of the best Low Cost Airlines in North America, based on authentic reviews from the travelling public on Trip Advisor, the world's largest travel site. We are one of very few airlines globally that does not commercially overbook. Together with our regional airline, WestJet Encore, we offer scheduled service to more than 100 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe and to more than 175 destinations in over 20 countries through our airline partnerships. WestJet Vacations offers affordable, flexible vacations to more than 60 destinations and the choice of more than 800 hotels, resorts, condos and villas.  Members of the WestJet Rewards program earn WestJet dollars on flights, vacation packages and more. Members use WestJet dollars towards the purchase of flights and vacations packages to any WestJet destination with no blackout periods, and have access to Member Exclusive fares offering deals to WestJet destinations throughout our network and those of our partner airlines.

WestJet is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the symbol WJA. For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com.  

Recent recognition includes:
2017 Five-Star Airline in the Low-Cost Category (The Airline Passenger Experience Association)
2017/2016 Canada's Most Trusted Airline (Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria)
2017 Best Airline in Canada and Travellers' Choice Winner Mid-Sized and Low Cost Airlines – North America (TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice awards for Airlines)
2016 Canada's most reputable company for Corporate Social Responsibility (Reputation Institute)
2016/2015/2014/2013/2012 Ranked top three for Canadian Brands (Canadian Business Magazine)
2016/2015/2014/2013 WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard ranked #1 in Canada (MoneySense magazine)
2015/2011/2010/2008/2007/2006/2005 Canada's Most Admired Corporate Culture (Waterstone Human Capital)
2015 Best Employers in Canada (Aon Hewitt)

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Consolidated Statement of Earnings
(Stated in thousands of Canadian dollars, except per share amounts)
(Unaudited)







Three months ended

December 31

Twelve months ended

December 31



2017

2016

2017

2016







Revenue:







Guest


941,602

867,990

3,822,045

3,556,941


Other


175,833

149,769

680,275

565,918



1,117,435

1,017,759

4,502,320

4,122,859

Operating expenses:







Aircraft fuel


251,619

210,489

950,043

765,867


Salaries and benefits


244,324

204,679

935,145

854,056


Rates and fees


156,214

150,770

644,763

617,573


Depreciation and amortization


105,537

93,722

403,021

350,484


Sales and marketing


100,121

91,521

384,452

356,745


Maintenance


42,440

54,985

203,227

209,226


Aircraft leasing


40,925

41,987

165,902

178,445


Other


93,810

77,885

330,014

291,024


Employee profit share


4,401

6,454

46,793

59,342



1,039,391

932,492

4,063,360

3,682,762

Earnings from operations


78,044

85,267

438,960

440,097







Non-operating income (expense):







Finance income


6,125

4,745

19,626

16,618


Finance cost


(13,087)

(15,380)

(53,710)

(49,074)


Gain (loss) on foreign exchange


(159)

(220)

(4,877)

7,402


Gain (loss) on disposal of property and equipment


2,576

(497)

6,562

(3,314)


Gain (loss) on derivatives


(21)

3,847

(2,426)

4,504



(4,566)

(7,505)

(34,825)

(23,864)

Earnings before income tax


73,478

77,762

404,135

416,233







Income tax expense (recovery):







Current


14,144

32,576

58,645

133,055


Deferred


10,860

(10,003)

61,912

(12,280)



25,004

22,573

120,557

120,775

Net earnings


48,474

55,189

283,578

295,458







Earnings per share:







Basic


0.42

0.47

2.44

2.46


Diluted


0.42

0.47

2.42

2.45

 

Consolidated Statement of Financial Position
(Stated in thousands of Canadian dollars)
(Unaudited)







December 31

2017

December 31

2016

Assets




Current assets:





Cash and cash equivalents


1,147,076

1,520,822


Marketable securities


226,090

-



Total cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities


1,373,166

1,520,822


Restricted cash


109,700

102,649


Accounts receivable


129,648

127,785


Prepaid expenses, deposits and other


138,676

181,070


Inventory


43,045

33,535



1,794,235

1,965,861

Non-current assets:





Property and equipment


4,567,504

4,036,880


Intangible assets


59,517

66,187


Other assets


78,584

95,368

Total assets


6,499,840

6,164,296





Liabilities and shareholders' equity




Current liabilities:





Accounts payable and accrued liabilities


549,844

547,490


Advance ticket sales


695,111

626,635


Deferred Rewards program


203,433

155,567


Non-refundable guest credits


43,288

42,942


Current portion of maintenance provisions


82,129

103,571


Current portion of long-term debt


153,149

145,128



1,726,954

1,621,333

Non-current liabilities:





Maintenance provisions


270,347

262,663


Long-term debt


1,895,898

1,901,530


Other liabilities


19,171

8,374


Deferred income tax


374,946

309,694

Total liabilities


4,287,316

4,103,594





Shareholders' equity:





Share capital


548,977

555,716


Equity reserves


97,514

93,039


Hedge reserves


(1,902)

(11,003)


Retained earnings


1,567,935

1,422,950

Total shareholders' equity


2,212,524

2,060,702

Total liabilities and shareholders' equity


6,499,840

6,164,296

 

Consolidated Statement of Cash Flows
(Stated in thousands of Canadian dollars)
(Unaudited)







Three months ended

December 31

Twelve months ended

December 31



2017

2016

2017

2016







Operating activities:






Net earnings


48,474

55,189

283,578

295,458

Items not involving cash:







Depreciation and amortization


105,537

93,722

403,021

350,484


Change in maintenance provisions


8,718

22,186

65,372

82,564


Amortization of transaction costs


1,125

1,017

4,807

5,092


Amortization of hedge settlements


-

79

-

833


(Gain) loss on derivatives


(268)

(2,028)

4,059

(2,472)


(Gain) loss on disposal of property and equipment


(2,576)

497

(6,562)

3,314


Share-based payment expense


4,143

4,184

19,050

18,432


Deferred income tax expense (recovery)


10,860

(10,003)

61,912

(12,280)


Unrealized foreign exchange (gain) loss


(2,858)

(1,806)

2,496

(4,498)

Change in non-cash working capital


41,664

(77,509)

237,663

40,384

Change in restricted cash


(19,818)

(21,163)

(7,051)

(34,076)

Change in other assets


203

133

(1,296)

7,129

Change in other liabilities


5,463

(1,444)

6,379

(2,486)

Purchase of shares pursuant to compensation plans


(1,220)

(632)

(4,784)

(7,197)

Maintenance provision settlements


(239)

(1,642)

(56,571)

(36,094)



199,208

60,780

1,012,073

704,587







Investing activities:






Aircraft additions


(184,083)

(238,903)

(881,069)

(847,718)

Aircraft disposals


1,390

595

9,511

4,660

Other property and equipment and intangible additions and disposals


(15,885)

(21,520)

(48,855)

(76,996)

Purchase of marketable securities


(50,289)

-

(231,293)

-

Change in non-cash working capital


(5,181)

2,131

(16,009)

(22,288)



(254,048)

(257,697)

(1,167,715)

(942,342)







Financing activities:






Increase in long-term debt


20,307

42,717

186,796

998,715

Repayment of long-term debt


(39,318)

(34,704)

(154,249)

(157,193)

Shares repurchased


(32,594)

(35,901)

(90,317)

(126,152)

Dividends paid


(15,966)

(16,408)

(64,886)

(66,967)

Cash interest paid


(17,118)

(16,552)

(63,188)

(56,046)

Change in non-cash working capital


(4,834)

(2,888)

(14,597)

(14,026)



(89,523)

(63,736)

(200,441)

578,331







Cash flow from/(used in) operating, investing and financing activities


(144,363)

(260,653)

(356,083)

340,576

Effect of foreign exchange on cash and cash equivalents


2,083

8,225

(17,663)

(3,551)

Net change in cash and cash equivalents


(142,280)

(252,428)

(373,746)

337,025







Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of period


1,289,356

1,773,250

1,520,822

1,183,797







Cash and cash equivalents, end of period


1,147,076

1,520,822

1,147,076

1,520,822







Supplemental disclosure of operating cash flows






Cash interest received


5,112

4,459

17,634

16,148

Cash taxes paid


(607)

(16,666)

(97,911)

(118,014)

 

CASM, excluding fuel and employee profit share
(Stated in thousands of Canadian dollars, except percentage, mile and per unit data)
(Unaudited)

WestJet excludes the effects of aircraft fuel expense and employee profit share expense to assess the operating performance of the business. Fuel expense is excluded from operating results due to the fact that fuel prices are impacted by a host of factors outside WestJet's control, such as significant weather events, geopolitical tensions, refinery capacity and global demand and supply. Excluding this expense allows WestJet to analyze its operating results on a comparable basis. Employee profit share expense is excluded from operating results due to its variable nature and excluding this expense allows greater comparability.





Three months ended December 31

Twelve months ended December 31

($ in thousands)

2017

2016

Change

2017

2016

Change

Operating expenses

1,039,391

932,492

106,899

4,063,360

3,682,762

380,598

Aircraft fuel expense

(251,619)

(210,489)

(41,130)

(950,043)

(765,867)

(184,176)

Employee profit share expense

(4,401)

(6,454)

2,053

(46,793)

(59,342)

12,549

Operating expenses, adjusted

783,371

715,549

67,822

3,066,524

2,857,553

208,971

ASMs

7,658,815,460

7,253,281,603

5.6%

30,998,306,475

29,298,340,363

5.8%

CASM, excluding above items (cents)

10.23

9.87

3.6%

9.89

9.75

1.4%

 

Return on invested capital
(Stated in thousands of Canadian dollars, except percentages)
(Unaudited)

ROIC is a measure commonly used to assess the efficiency with which a company allocates its capital to generate returns. Return is calculated based on our earnings before tax, excluding special items, finance costs and implied interest on our off-balance-sheet aircraft leases. Invested capital includes average long-term debt, average finance lease obligations, average shareholders' equity and off-balance-sheet aircraft operating leases.








($ in thousands)




December 31
2017

December 31
2016

Change

Earnings before income taxes




404,135

416,233

(12,098)

Add:








Finance costs




53,710

49,074

4,636


Implicit interest in operating leases(i)




87,099

93,684

(6,585)





544,944

558,991

(14,047)

Invested capital:








Average long-term debt(ii)




2,047,853

1,610,746

437,107


Average shareholders' equity




2,136,613

2,010,348

126,265


Off-balance-sheet aircraft leases(iii)




1,244,265

1,338,338

(94,073)





5,428,731

4,959,432

469,299

Return on invested capital




10.0%

11.3%

(1.3 pts)

(i)   

Interest implicit in operating leases is equal to 7.0 per cent of 7.5 times the trailing 12 months of aircraft lease expense. 7.0 per cent is a proxy and does not necessarily represent actual for any given period.

(ii) 

Average long-term debt includes the current portion and long-term portion.

(iii) 

Off-balance-sheet aircraft operating leases are calculated by multiplying the trailing 12 months of aircraft leasing expense by 7.5. At December 31, 2017, the trailing 12 months of aircraft leasing expenses totaled $165,902 (December 31, 2016 – $178,445).

 

SOURCE WestJet

For further information: WestJet Media Relations, 1-888-WJ-4-NEWS (1-888-954-6397), Email: [email protected], Website: www.westjet.com; WestJet Investor Relations, 1-877-493-7853, Email: [email protected]


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