This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, November 7, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Turbulence! JetBlue Airways hitting some, surprisingly. The discount carrier managing to do what most major airlines could not, it posted a profit in the latest quarter. Revenues doubling. But still, Wall Street was apparently hoping for more. JetBlue stock dropping nearly 9 percent. Here to discuss the results, the CEO of JetBlue Airways, David Neeleman.
David, good to have you.
CAVUTO: We were chatting during the break, I think you guys set such lofty expectations that just missing the more optimistic ones you got hit.
NEELEMAN: We have five analysts that cover the stock. We beat three of their numbers. The other ones were put there months and months ago. We don't put a lot of credence in EPS, analyst EPS. We're just trying to run a great company.
CAVUTO: More analysts, apparently, right?
NEELEMAN: Yes. The whole thing is kind of perverse, really, to be honest with you. They put a number out there. We can't guide them any more. We don't do it.
CAVUTO: It actually makes your job more of a conundrum, doesn't it? Because you can't communicate with the analysts like you used to. So in a way it boomerangs on you.
NEELEMAN: We beat our own internal number. We had a number internally that we wanted to beat. And we beat it by several cents a share. And a great quarter and you know, then they have one analyst that's way out, hyper aggressive on the earnings per share and...
CAVUTO: You've got to take that guy out to dinner. But anyway, let's talk a little bit about what Don Carty was saying at AMR. He's going to the new Republican-controlled Congress with essentially hat in hand and saying, help us. What do you think of that?
NEELEMAN: Well, I think there's two ways to help. Number one, airlines have very high taxes. We have higher taxes than the tobacco industry or the alcohol industry. So yes, we have had a lot of taxes put on top of us. Probably the worst thing that ever happened in this industry is getting $5 billion from the government. Because with that, now there's a lot of taxes.
CAVUTO: Did you get any of that money?
NEELEMAN: We got a little bit of it. But we were small at the time and it was based on our percentage of market share. And now they've got the money, it's kind of like put another tax on, put another tax on. We gave you $5 billion. We have given all that money back in excess fees. So I think we need to keep taxes down because we need to stimulate market traffic because that's how we grow and that's how we contribute a lot to the...
CAVUTO: So he's saying essentially, look, the taxes are way too high. You agree with that. But there are others who are saying we need even more help than that. We need to revisit a bailout of some sort. What do you think about that?
NEELEMAN: I hope we don't do that. The government shouldn't be involved in picking winners and losers. National Airlines shut down today. They didn't receive the bailout help. US Airways, Frontier got the bailout help. It's just kind of like...
CAVUTO: And now we have got talk that United is probably going to go the bankruptcy route. It's just a matter of time. AMR is a hurting puppy. Do you think that you get to a point where you do have to help out some of these big guys or you're left with one or two carriers and then you're in trouble?
NEELEMAN: Not now. I think now is not...
CAVUTO: You'd welcome these guys going out of business.
NEELEMAN: No, not necessarily. It wouldn't be good for the industry, and we're for what is good for the industry. But you know, we can't overreact at this point in time and do things hasty. I think we had to do something after 9/11, and it happened really quickly. And I think it could have been done differently. Now let's just take our time. Let's let the world take a few turns.
CAVUTO: You have that Iraq war to worry about, you've got higher fuel prices to worry about if that ever comes to pass. What do you think?
NEELEMAN: Well, it is a certainty. This is a crazy business. And that's why we're focusing on taking care of our customers and making sure they come back. And that's why we're doing better than the other guys. We keep our costs low. And we give good service. And I'm just focused on what we're doing. And we're doing a great job with our customers. Our crew members are doing a great job.
CAVUTO: All right. David Neeleman, thank you very much. The man who runs JetBlue.
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