United Profit Beats Forecasts As New Flights From Hubs Pay Off
United Airlines has reported a fourth-quarter profit that easily beat Wall Street forecasts as the US carrier scheduled more flights out of its hubs and won back customers after a series of public relations disasters.
Chicago-based United attributed its revenue growth to a strategy launched last January to expand its domestic network by adding flights and more options for connections through its seven main hubs, with a particular focus on Chicago, Denver and Houston.
Adjusted earnings per share rose to $2.41 from $1.99 a year earlier, topping analysts' average forecast by 37 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
For 2019, United said it expects adjusted earnings of $10.00 to $12.00 per share.
United posted fourth-quarter net income of $462 million, or $1.70 per share, compared with a profit of $579 million, or $1.98 per share, a year ago.
Boost Plans And Image Rebuild
The airline said it planned to boost its flight network by another 4% to 6% next year, and said it had placed orders for four Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and 24 737 MAX planes.
United said it expected first-quarter unit revenue growth to be between flat and up 3%.
In addition to capacity adds, United reinforced customer service over the past year in an effort to rebuild an image scarred by incidents of passenger abuse and dead pets.