Performance

Reporting on Business Performance

Southwest’s Annual Report to Shareholders includes an opening letter to Shareholders from Gary Kelly, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, and provides an overview of our business and financial performance in 2018. It includes a discussion of our business, risks, Management’s discussion and analysis of Southwest’s financial condition and results of operations, and audited financial statements.

Read our 2018 Annual Report to Shareholders here.

Southwest’s Proxy Statement is provided to Shareholders in advance of the Annual Meeting of Shareholders. It contains Shareholder proposals as well as Executive compensation information.

View the complete 2019 Proxy Statement here.

See Footnotes: 44) The Company's Consolidated Financial Statements are prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States ("GAAP"). These GAAP financial statements include (i) unrealized noncash adjustments and reclassifications, which can be significant, as a result of accounting requirements and elections made under accounting pronouncements relating to derivative instruments and hedging and (ii) other charges and benefits the Company believes are unusual and/or infrequent in nature and thus may make comparisons to its prior or future performance difficult.

As a result, the Company also provides financial information in this filing that was not prepared in accordance with GAAP and should not be considered as an alternative to the information prepared in accordance with GAAP. The Company provides supplemental non-GAAP financial information (also referred to as "excluding special items"), including results that it refers to as "economic," which the Company's management utilizes to evaluate its ongoing financial performance and the Company believes provides additional insight to investors as supplemental information to its GAAP results. The non-GAAP measures provided that relate to the Company’s performance on an economic fuel cost basis include Fuel and oil expense, non-GAAP; Total operating expenses, non-GAAP; Operating income, non-GAAP; Adjusted operating income, non-GAAP; Income tax rate, non-GAAP; Provision for income taxes, non-GAAP; Net income, non-GAAP; Net income per share, diluted, non-GAAP; and Operating expenses per ASM, non-GAAP, excluding ProfitSharing and Fuel and oil expense. The Company's economic Fuel and oil expense results differ from GAAP results in that they only include the actual cash settlements from fuel hedge contracts - all reflected within Fuel and oil expense in the period of settlement. Thus, Fuel and oil expense on an economic basis has historically been utilized by the Company, as well as some of the other airlines that utilize fuel hedging, as it reflects the Company’s actual net cash outlays for fuel during the applicable period, inclusive of settled fuel derivative contracts. Any net premium costs paid related to option contracts that are designated as hedges are reflected as a component of Fuel and oil expense, for both GAAP and non-GAAP (including economic) purposes in the period of contract settlement. The Company believes these economic results provide further insight on the impact of the Company's fuel hedges on its operating performance and liquidity since they exclude the unrealized, noncash adjustments and reclassifications that are recorded in GAAP results in accordance with accounting guidance relating to derivative instruments, and they reflect all cash settlements related to fuel derivative contracts within Fuel and oil expense. This enables the Company's management, as well as investors and analysts, to consistently assess the Company's operating performance on a year-over-year or quarter-over-quarter basis after considering all efforts in place to manage fuel expense. However, because these measures are not determined in accordance with GAAP, such measures are susceptible to varying calculations, and not all companies calculate the measures in the same manner. As a result, the aforementioned measures, as presented, may not be directly comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other companies.

Further information on (i) the Company's fuel hedging program, (ii) the requirements of accounting for derivative instruments, and (iii) the causes of hedge ineffectiveness and/or market-to-market gains or losses from derivative instruments is included in Note 2 and Note 10 to the Consolidated Financial Statements on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2018, which also discusses the Company's Jan. 1, 2018 adoption of the New Hedging Standard. The Company’s GAAP results in the applicable periods include other charges or benefits that are also deemed "special items," that the Company believes make its results difficult to compare to prior periods, anticipated future periods, or industry trends. Financial measures identified as non-GAAP (or as excluding special items) have been adjusted to exclude special items. Special items include:

  • A gain recognized in first quarter 2018, associated with the sale of 39 owned Boeing 737-300 aircraft and a number of spare engines to a third party. These aircraft were previously retired as part of the Company's exit of its Classic fleet. The gain was not anticipated, and the Company associates it with the grounding charge recorded in third quarter 2017; and

  • An adjustment to Provision for income taxes related to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act legislation enacted in December 2017, which resulted in a re-measurement of the Company's deferred tax assets and liabilities at the new federal corporate tax rate of 21 percent. This adjustment was a non-cash item and was treated as a special item.


Because management believes each of these items can distort the trends associated with the Company’s ongoing performance as an airline, the Company believes that evaluation of its financial performance can be enhanced by a supplemental presentation of results that exclude the impact of these items in order to enhance consistency and comparativeness with results in prior periods that do not include such items and as a basis for evaluating operating results in future periods. The following measures are often provided, excluding special items, and utilized by the Company’s management, analysts, and investors to enhance comparability of year-over-year results, as well as to industry trends: Total operating expenses, non-GAAP; Operating income, non-GAAP; Adjusted operating income, non-GAAP; Income tax rate, non-GAAP; Provision for income taxes, non-GAAP; Net income, non-GAAP; Net income per share, diluted, non-GAAP; and Operating expenses per ASM, non-GAAP, excluding ProfitSharing and Fuel and oil expense.

The Company has also provided free cash flow, which is a non-GAAP financial measure. The Company believes free cash flow is a meaningful measure because it demonstrates the Company’s ability to service its debt, pay dividends, and make investments to enhance Shareholder value. Although free cash flow is commonly used as a measure of liquidity, definitions of free cash flow may differ; therefore, the Company is providing an explanation of its calculation for free cash flow. For the year ended Dec. 31, 2018, the Company generated $3.1 billion in free cash flow, calculated as operating cash flows of $4.9 billion less capital expenditures of $1.9 billion less assets constructed for others of $54 million plus reimbursements for assets constructed for others of $170 million.

The Company has also provided its calculation of return on invested capital, which is a measure of financial performance used by management to evaluate its investment returns on capital. Return on invested capital is not a substitute for financial results as reported in accordance with GAAP, and should not be utilized in place of such GAAP results. Although return on invested capital is not a measure defined by GAAP, it is calculated by the Company, in part, using non-GAAP financial measures. Those non-GAAP financial measures are utilized for the same reasons as those noted above for Net income, non-GAAP and Operating income, non-GAAP. The comparable GAAP measures include charges or benefits that are deemed "special items" that the Company believes make its results difficult to compare to prior periods, anticipated future periods, or industry trends, and the Company’s profitability targets and estimates, both internally and externally, are based on non-GAAP results since in the vast majority of cases the "special items" cannot be reliably predicted or estimated. The Company believes non-GAAP return on invested capital is a meaningful measure because it quantifies the Company's effectiveness in generating returns relative to the capital it has invested in its business. Although return on invested capital is commonly used as a measure of capital efficiency, definitions of return on invested capital differ; therefore, the Company is providing an explanation of its calculation for non-GAAP return on invested capital in the accompanying reconciliation in order to allow investors to compare and contrast its calculation to the calculations provided by other companies.

Information regarding special items and reconciliation of reported amounts to amounts excluding special items are included in the accompanying reconciliation tables in the Performance section.

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