UPDATE 2-Delta Air Lines quarterly profit rises, aided by U.S. demand
* Adjusted profit $1.04 a share vs estimate of $1.03
* Revenue falls short of analysts' estimate
* Shares up over 3 pct in early afternoon trade (Adds analyst, company comments)
July 23 (Reuters) - Delta Air Lines reported a higher-than-expected second-quarter profit as it flew fuller planes and enjoyed higher passenger revenue in the United States, boosting its shares by 3 percent.
Atlanta-based Delta has bolstered revenue by charging more for seats with greater legroom, replacing 50-seat regional jets with larger, more cost-efficient planes.
The airline also said its Pennsylvania refinery, which it bought in 2012 to help reduce fuel expenses, turned a profit in the second quarter.
Solid financial performance has positioned Delta to be able to pay down debt, raise its dividend and buy back stock as it builds on a strategy to enhance returns for shareholders.
"Delta seems to be hitting on all cylinders internationally and domestically with well-controlled costs and finally getting benefit from its refinery," said Jim Corridore, an analyst with S&P Capital IQ.
"In every aspect of the way it is operating - cash flow generation, debt repayments, stock buybacks - it seems to be doing everything right," he added. Continuación...