United Airlines reports first-quarter 2017 performance

Eleanor Steed
By Eleanor Steed April 19, 2017 12:44

United Airlines reports first-quarter 2017 performance

United Airlines (UAL) has reported first-quarter net income of $96 million, diluted earnings per share of $0.31, pre-tax earnings of $145 million and pre-tax margin of 1.7 percent.

Excluding special items, UAL reported first-quarter net income of $129 million, diluted earnings per share of $0.41, pre-tax earnings of $196 million and pre-tax margin of 2.3 percent.

Oscar Munoz, chief executive officer of United Airlines, said: “In the first quarter of 2017, our financial and operational performance gives us a lot of confidence about the foundation we are building. It is obvious from recent experiences that we need to do a much better job serving our customers. The incident that took place aboard Flight 3411 has been a humbling experience, and I take full responsibility. This will prove to be a watershed moment for our company, and we are more determined than ever to put our customers at the center of everything we do. We are dedicated to setting the standard for customer service among U.S. airlines, as we elevate the experience our customers have with us from booking to baggage claim.”

For the first quarter of 2017, revenue was $8.4 billion, an increase of 2.7 percent year-over-year. First-quarter 2017 consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) was flat and consolidated yield increased 0.4 percent compared to the first quarter of 2017.

Scott Kirby, president of United Airlines, said, “United is delivering on the commitments we made at investor day last fall. We saw positive trends in the revenue environment in the quarter and are optimistic about the year ahead. Looking forward, we expect second-quarter consolidated PRASM to be up 1.0 to 3.0 percent. This would mark the fifth straight quarter of sequential improvement and the first quarter of positive unit revenue growth in two years.”

Operating expense was $8.1 billion in the first quarter, up 7.9 percent year-over-year. Excluding special charges, operating expense was $8.1 billion, a 10.0 percent increase year-over-year. Consolidated unit cost per available seat mile (CASM) increased 5.1 percent compared to the first quarter of 2017 due largely to higher fuel expense and the impact of labor agreements ratified in 2017. First-quarter consolidated CASM, excluding special charges, third-party business expenses, fuel and profit sharing, increased 5.0 percent year-over-year, driven mainly by higher labor expense.

In the first quarter of 2017, UAL increased its revolving credit facility by $650 million to a total capacity of $2.0 billion with the full amount currently undrawn and increased its existing term loan by approximately $440 million with more favorable terms and rates. Also in the first quarter, the company raised $300 million of unsecured debt at 5 percent.

UAL generated $547 million in operating cash flow and ended the quarter with $6.4 billion in unrestricted liquidity, including its $2.0 billion revolving credit facility. The company’s capital expenditures were $691 million in the first quarter. Including assets acquired through the issuance of debt and airport construction financing and excluding fully reimbursable projects, the company invested $1.4 billion during the first quarter in adjusted capital expenditures. The company contributed $80 million to its pension plans and made debt and capital lease principal payments of $346 million in the first quarter.

For the 12 months ended March 31, 2017, the company’s pre-tax income was $3.5 billion and return on invested capital (ROIC) was 17.5 percent. In the quarter, UAL purchased $0.3 billion of its common shares at an average price of $68.41 per share. As of March 31, 2017, the company had approximately $1.5 billion remaining to purchase shares under its existing share repurchase authority.

Andrew Levy, executive vice president and chief financial officer of United Airlines, said, “During the quarter, we improved our liquidity and continued to return cash to shareholders. We remain focused on maintaining a strong balance sheet and finding incremental cost savings opportunities.”

Eleanor Steed
By Eleanor Steed April 19, 2017 12:44