Shares of Republic Airways Holdings rocketed into 2013, closing 19.5 percent higher Wednesday after the Indianapolis-based company raised its quarterly outlook.
Republic shares continued to climb Thursday morning, rising 5.2 percent, to $7.14 each. The shares haven't traded above $7 in nearly two years.
The regional airline operator and parent of Frontier Airlines on Dec. 31 lifted its earnings-per-share estimate for the quarter to a range of 30 cents to 36 cents from prior guidance of 18 cents to 24 cents.
The company said its regional airlines operation should record pretax income of $20 million to $25 million. That’s up from previous guidance of $15 million to $20 million.
Contract-based regional flying business for larger airlines has been difficult in recent years amid airline mergers and souring economics for smaller jet aircraft on many routes.
Prospects improved in recent months. Republic's fixed-fee agreement with American Airlines was extended 18 months. And, in October, Republic signed a three-year deal to fly Caesar’s Entertainment Corp. members to resorts around the country, amounting to more than 1,500 flights annually.
Last year, Republic Airways Holdings turned around its Denver-based Frontier Airlines, in part through substantial cost-cutting. It plans to sell all or part of Frontier, although no takers have been found.
This week’s upbeat guidance also include estimates that total unit revenue at Frontier during 2013 should be 12.4 cents to 12.8 cents. That would be more than 5.5 percent higher than in 2012.