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United Continental Sees Flat Q1 As Q4 Results Beat View

From United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE:UAL) late Tuesday posted better than expected fourth quarter earnings results, but its flat Q1 outlook sent shares lower in late trading.

The Chicago-based airline operator reported adjusted Q4 EPS of $1.78, which was $0.05 better than the Wall Street consensus estimate of $1.73. Revenues rose 0.2% from last year to $9.05 billion, slightly ahead of analysts’ view of $9.04 billion.

Passenger revenue per available seat mile, also known as PRASM, fell 1.6%, however, while UAL’s consolidated yield dropped 1.2%. Still, these numbers surpassed the company’s guidance, helped by better holiday season performance.

For the full-year 2016, consolidated PRASM fell 5.4%. UAL blamed the drop on effects from the stronger U.S. dollar, lower surcharges, reductions in corporate travel within the energy industry, and lower yields.

The company commented via press release:

“We saw meaningful improvement in the pricing and demand environment in the quarter,” said Scott Kirby, president of United Airlines. “Looking forward, we anticipate first-quarter consolidated unit revenues to be approximately flat, marking the fourth straight quarter of sequential quarter-over-quarter improvement.”

United Continental Holdings Inc shares fell $1.74 (-2.36%) to $72.00 in after-hours trading Tuesday. Prior to today’s report, UAL had gained 1.18% year-to-date, versus a 1.23% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

UAL currently has a POWR Rating of A (Strong Buy), and is ranked #4 of 18 stocks in the Airlines category.

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