UAL Takes Flight on Earnings

United Continental Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) reported stronger-than-expected earnings on Tuesday.

UAL reported full-year net income of $2.1 billion, diluted earnings per share of $7.70 (a 9.1% increase year-over-year), pre-tax earnings of $2.7 billion and pre-tax margin of 6.4%. UAL reported adjusted full-year net income of $2.5 billion, adjusted pre-tax earnings of $3.2 billion and adjusted pre-tax margin of 7.7%.

UAL increased its full-year 2018 adjusted diluted earnings per share outlook three times during the year despite a $2.4-billion year-over-year headwind from fuel. Full-year adjusted diluted earnings per share increased 33.5% year-over-year to $9.13, above the high end of the company's most recent guidance range.

The company set new UAL records by flying the most revenue passengers ever, operating the most mainline departures and achieving the fewest cancellations ever in a year, resulting in more UAL customers departing on-time in 2018 than ever before. For the year, the company achieved the best completion rate in company history with more than 1.7 million flights.

CEO Oscar Munoz said, "United's financial performance is a testament to the successful implementation of the first year of our strategic plan and to the record-setting operational performance powered by the more than 90,000 airline professionals who work at United.

"United delivered proof, not just promises in 2018 - even in the face of significant headwinds from higher than expected fuel costs. It's why I couldn't be more proud of our winning culture and customer-focused team and continue to be enthusiastic about United's bright future."

Shares got lift of $5.47, or 6.7%, to $86.67