updated 4/22/2004 3:11:37 PM ET 2004-04-22T19:11:37

JetBlue Airways Corp.'s first-quarter profit declined 12.5 percent from a year ago, as increased competition and seasonal sluggishness hurt its bottom line.

However, the latest results beat Wall Street's expectations, sending the low-cost carrier's stock up $2.49, or almost 10 percent, to $28.20 in Thursday afternoon trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

New York-based JetBlue Thursday reported net income of $15.2 million, or 14 cents a share, for the latest quarter, compared with $17.4 million, or 17 cents a share, a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had expected first-quarter earnings of 12 cents a share.

Revenue rose 33 percent in the latest quarter to $289 million, up from $217 million a year before. Operating expenses increased 40 percent to $256 million.

Revenue passenger miles rose 42 percent to 3.37 billion miles from 2.37 billion miles. Load factor, or the percentage of seats filled, was 79.9 percent in the quarter, compared with 81.4 percent a year earlier.

JetBlue operates more than 100 flights per day, serving 18 cities in nine states.

From its base in New York's JFK International Airport, it flies to cities such as Tampa and Orlando, Fla., Buffalo, N.Y., New Orleans, La., Denver, Co., and Salt Lake City, Utah.

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