Brazilian airline Gol posts Q1 beat on higher revenue, currency gains

An aircraft of Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA prepares to depart from Congonhas airport in Sao Paulo

By Gabriel Araujo

SAO PAULO (Reuters) -Brazilian airline Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA on Thursday reported higher-than-expected first quarter net income as currency gains helped offset higher fuel prices, driving its shares higher.

The company said operating results were the best since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with quarterly sales coming in above the levels seen in the first quarter of 2019, prior to the health crisis.

Shares of Gol were up 2.6% at 15.08 reais in midafternoon, outperforming Brazil's Bovespa stock index, which was up 0.4%.

Gol posted quarterly net profit of 2.6 billion reais ($523.8 million), compared with a 394.8 million-real consensus from analysts polled by Refinitiv, reversing the multibillion-real losses of both a year ago and the previous quarter.

The bottom line was boosted mainly by foreign exchange gains, Gol said, as Brazil's real strengthened sharply against the U.S. dollar in the period.

The company disclosed preliminary traffic data for the first quarter earlier this month, noting its load factor rose by about 1 percentage point from last year. Available seat kilometers (ASK) grew roughly 44%.

Analysts at Guide Investimentos said Gol's operating figures were positive and represented a significant improvement despite pressure from macroeconomic factors such as fuel prices and high inflation in Brazil.

"In spite of this, we still keep a cautious view on the sector, which may continue to face such hurdles," they added.

Gol's quarterly net revenue more than doubled year on year to 3.2 billion reais, beating the Refinitiv forecast of 2.92 billion reais.

"Our ability to emerge from one of the worst crises in the history of the airline industry as a more competitive company with strong results is a testament to our flexible business model," Chief Executive Paulo Kakinoff said.

($1 = 4.9642 reais)

(Reporting by Gabriel Araujo in Sao PauloEditing by Jan Harvey and Matthew Lewis)