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Delta shares slide on disappointing revenue

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Delta Air Lines shares retreated Monday after the world’s largest carrier announced second-quarter profit that beat Wall Street estimates, but revenue that fell short of expectations.

Atlanta-based Delta (DAL, Fortune 500) announced a quarterly profit of $549 million, or 65 cents per share — 2 cents better than expected by analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Delta was the first major airline to announce its second-quarter results, and analysts were looking to the company for signs that business travelers and consumers have ramped up their travel spending after the worst of the recession cut deeply into airlines’ revenue last year.

Delta posted $8.17 billion in revenue, a 17% boost over the same quarter last year, but short of analysts’ forecasts of $8.27 billion. The disappointing number was enough to spur investors to sell off the stock as much as 11% shortly after U.S. markets opened.

By 1 p.m. ET, Delta had pared back some of those losses, trading at $11.24, or about 4% lower, than its Friday closing price.

Overall, Delta shares have risen about 85% from their selling price of a year ago.

The airline forecast double-digit percentage revenue gains for its current quarter, ending in September.

“We are seeing strong improvements in these early stages of the economic recovery and believe there’s room for more revenue growth as the economy continues to stabilize,” Ed Bastian, Delta’s president, said in a statement.

The parent company of competing carrier United Airlines (UAL) plans to announce its quarterly earnings Tuesday. In May, United announced a merger with Continental Airlines (CAL, Fortune 500), which will report its results Thursday. Once the deal is complete, the combined airline will surpass Delta as the world’s largest carrier.

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