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Hot stock: Singapore Air jumps most in two months as profit beats estimates

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[SINGAPORE] Singapore Airlines climbed the most in two months after reporting quarterly profit that beat analyst estimates, as lower fuel prices helped Southeast Asia's largest carrier attract more passengers with cheaper fares.

The stock rose 3.4 per cent to S$11.19 as of 9:47 am in Singapore, the largest intraday gain since Dec 8. It eventually closed 3.9 per cent or 42 cents higher at S$11.24, with some 4.4 million shares changing hands.

Net income climbed 36 per cent from a year earlier to S$274.9 million in the third quarter ended Dec 31, Singapore Air said Thursday after the market's close, compared with analysts' estimates of S$224 million. The carrier boosted occupancy of its seats to 80 per cent from 78 per cent a year earlier with lower fares, helping achieve the profit even as it lost S$72 million in fuel hedges and S$77 million from the weakening of the local currency against the US dollar.

"The numbers should get progressively better as fuel hedges come close to spot prices," Alan Richardson, a Hong Kong-based money manager at Samsung Asset Management, said in an e- mail. Mr Richardson said last month that he's betting on improved earnings for Singapore Air as it benefits from plunging jet fuel prices.

The price of jet fuel cargoes loading from Singapore fell 39 per cent in the past 12 months to US$42.84 Friday.

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