United Continental posts narrower 4Q loss

AP News
Posted: Jan 26, 2012 9:24 AM
United Continental posts narrower 4Q loss

The parent company of United and Continental airlines posted a narrower fourth-quarter loss as the cost of integrating the companies fell.

It also said it won't increase the amount of flying it does this year.

United Continental Holdings Inc. said Thursday that it lost $138 million, or 42 cents per share, compared with a loss of $325 million, or $1.01, a year earlier.

Without special charges, the company said it would have earned $109 million, or 30 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected a profit of 13 cents per share.

Revenue rose 5.5 percent to $8.93 billion, matching analysts' expectation and helped by fare increases. Revenue for each seat flown one mile rose 8.2 percent.

United and Continental merged on Oct. 1, 2010, and the new company spent $493 million on integration-related costs during the next three months, driving it to a $325 million loss during that quarter. Integration costs shrank to $170 million in the most recent quarter.

The company is combining United and Continental into one airline flying under the United name. It has to integrate the massive computer systems that run reservations, scheduling, and corporate functions. It also has to combine fleets and maintenance procedures, and must merge groups of workers that in some cases came from different unions.

For all of 2011, the company earned $840 million, or $2.26 per share. That was down from a 2010 profit _ if the two companies had been combined for all of that year _ of $955 million, or $2.61 per share.

United Continental said its flying capacity will be flat or shrink 1 percent this year. For the first quarter, it said flying capacity will range between rising 0.3 percent to falling 0.7 percent. It said it would reduce domestic flying and increase international flying.

Shares rose 84 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $21.25 in premarket trading.