United Airlines said Tuesday that its first-quarter profit doubled to 292 million as it carried more passengers and limited costs other than fuel.
The results beat Wall Street expectations for a quarter that began with the partial government shutdown, which dinged travel by federal employees, and ended with Boeing 737 Max jets — United owns 14 — grounded around the world.
The airline gave an upbeat forecast of second-quarter revenue trends. However, Chicago-based United did not raise its full-year earnings prediction.
United said that first-quarter earnings, adjusted to exclude one-time gains and costs, came to 1.15 per share.
The average prediction of 19 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for 94 cents per share.
Revenue rose 6 to 9.59 billion. Analysts in the Zacks survey were looking for 9.6 billion on average. The airline carried 6 more passengers than a year ago.
United predicted that a key figure — revenue for each seat flown one mile — would rose between 0.5 and 2.5 in the second quarter when compared with the same period last year. That is a closely watched figure and, though while not perfect, indicates that the airline expects slightly higher fares than last spring.
Despite beating forecasts for the first quarter, United did not change its forecast for full-year earnings — between 10 and 12 per share.
Shares of United Continental Holdings Inc. rose 65 cents to close at 85.17 before the first-quarter results were posted. They were up another 2.33, or 2.7, to 87.50. At the end of regular-session trading, the shares had gained 2 this year and 27 in the last 12 months.
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