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Republic to buy $3B in jets; quarterly profit rises

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Republic Airways Holdings Inc. earned $20.1 million in the fourth quarter, partly due to its acquisition of Frontier Airlines Holdings, the Indianapolis-based regional carrier reported late Wednesday.

In addition, the company announced it has agreed to buy 40 Bombardier Inc. CS300 regional jets valued at $3.06 billion, the largest order for the aircraft since its introduction in 2008.

Its profit translated to 55 cents per share in the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared to $19 million for the same period in 2008, or 56 cents per share.

Republic, the operator of six regional carriers, reported fourth quarter revenue of $637.3 million, an 88-percent increase from the same time in 2008.

The results included $109.2 million of impairment charges and a $203.7 million gain on a “bargain purchase” related to the acquisition of Frontier. Republic bought Denver-based Frontier for $108.8 million on Oct. 1.

The two non-recurring items increased the local carrier’s quarterly profit by $17.1 million. In addition, the company reported a year-end tax adjustment, which increased profit by $2.1 million.

Earnings excluding one-time items were $900,000, or 3 cents per share, falling short of analysts’ estimates of 6 cents per share.
 
For the entire year, Republic’s profit fell 53.1 percent, to $39.7 million. That translated to $1.13 per share, compared to $2.42 in 2009.

Revenue in 2009 climbed 11 percent, to $1.6 billion.

Company shares closed Wednesday at $5.12, down from a 52-week high of $10.64 reached in September.

Republic is the first North American customer for the Bombardier CS300. It holds options to purchase as many as 40 more jets, bringing the total potential value to $6.34 billion, Montreal-based Bombardier said. Carriers that order multiple aircraft typically get discounts.

The operator of regional carriers, including Republic Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Chautauqua Airlines, said the jets would be more fuel-efficient and provide customers with wider aisles and more storage space than its current fleet.

“This aircraft will bring next-generation advantages to all phases of its mission,” Bryan Bedford, Republic CEO, said.

The aircraft will carry 138 passengers in a two-by-three seat configuration. Deliveries begin in the second quarter of 2015.

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