Bloomberg News

JetBlue Falls After Finance Chief Quits Week Before Earnings

October 19, 2011

(Update with closing share price in third paragraph.)

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- JetBlue Airways Corp. fell the most in two weeks after Chief Financial Officer Ed Barnes resigned ahead of the carrier’s earnings report.

Barnes’s departure, effective immediately, was announced after the stock market closed yesterday. The resignation was a “personal decision” that had been planned for some time, said Mateo Lleras, a spokesman for New York-based JetBlue.

The exit so close to JetBlue’s Oct. 26 third-quarter results report raises questions about the circumstances, James M. Higgins, a Ticonderoga Securities LLC analyst, said in a report today. The shares dropped 6.7 percent to $4.32 at the close in New York.

JetBlue offered assurances “that there are no accounting or other irregularities,” said Higgins, who recommends buying the stock. “Such a sudden and untimely departure of a senior officer may well lead to near-term weakness in JetBlue shares, but we have no reason to think there are problems that should concern shareholders.”

Today’s percentage drop in the shares was the biggest since Oct. 3. The stock has slid 35 percent this year, eighth-worst among the 10 carriers in the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index.

The departure was amicable and Barnes, 46, “is going to pursue other professional interests,” said Jenny Dervin, a JetBlue spokeswoman. Barnes declined requests for interviews through the company, she said.

Barnes was named interim CFO in 2007 during a series of management changes that included Dave Barger replacing company founder David Neeleman as chief executive officer. Barnes became the permanent finance chief the next year. He joined JetBlue in 2006 and also served as finance vice president and principal accounting officer.

Mark Powers, JetBlue treasurer and senior vice president, was named interim finance chief. Powers, 57, joined JetBlue in 2006 as treasurer and vice president for corporate finance.

--Editors: Ed Dufner, John Lear

To contact the reporter on this story: Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at maryc.s@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net


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