United Continental Earnings Keep Soaring

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When United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) reported its most recent quarterly results after the markets closed on Tuesday, the airline operator said that it had $3.06 in earnings per share (EPS) and $11.0 billion in revenue. That compared with consensus estimates of $3.08 in EPS and $10.93 billion in revenue, as well as the $2.15 per share and $9.90 billion posted in the same period of last year.

During the most recent quarter, consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile increased 6.1% year over year, just above the high end of the company’s third-quarter 2018 guidance range of up 4% to 6%.

At the same time, consolidated unit cost per available seat mile increased 6.4%. Excluding special charges, third-party business expenses, fuel and profit sharing, that figure actually decreased 0.4% year over year.

One other big highlight from the quarter was that United’s mid-continent hubs in Chicago, Denver and Houston had year-over-year capacity growth of 9.7% in the third quarter and led the system in unit revenue growth performance in the quarter.

Looking ahead to the full year, the company expects to see EPS in the range of $8.00 and $8.75. Consensus estimates call for $8.16 in EPS and $40.91 billion in revenue for the year.

Oscar Munoz, CEO of United, commented:

Our stand-out third-quarter performance, which produced double-digit revenue growth as we more than offset the steep increase in fuel costs, is proof that United is building momentum. Our growth plan has been essential to our success, and we’re more confident than ever we’ll achieve the ambitious adjusted earnings per share1 target of $11 to $13 we laid out for 2020.

Shares of United traded up 4.6% early Wednesday at $87.40, with a consensus analyst price target of $95.23 and a 52-week range of $56.51 to $91.39.

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