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Earnings Results: United Airlines posts first profitable quarter of pandemic, but the stock is still getting pounded

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United Airlines Holdings Inc. shares fell in the extended session Wednesday after the airline fell short of Wall Street estimates even as it reported its first profitable quarter since COVID-19 began.

United
UAL,
+0.51%

shares dropped 7% after hours, following a 0.5% rise to close the regular session at $41.68.

The airline reported second-quarter net income of $329 million , or $1 a share, after a loss of $434 million, or $1.34 a share, a year ago. Adjusted earnings, which factored out items like investment losses and gains, came in at $1.43 a share, versus an adjusted loss of $3.91 a share in the year-ago period.

Revenue rose to $12.11 billion from $5.47 billion in the year-ago period. Total revenue per available seat mile surged to a record 19.35 cents from 13.81 cents in the year-ago period, and from 15.57 cents in the second-quarter of 2019, the company said.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast adjusted earnings of $1.85 a share on revenue of $12.12 billion.

“It’s nice to return to profitability — but we must confront three risks that could grow over the next 6-18 months,” said Scott Kirby, United chief executive, in a statement. “Industrywide operational challenges that limit the system’s capacity, record fuel prices and the increasing possibility of a global recession are each real challenges that we are already addressing.”

United Airlines said the average price of fuel for the quarter was $4.18 a gallon, compared with $1.97 a gallon in the year-ago quarter.

Executives plan to hold a conference call at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time Thursday to discuss the results.

Lawrence A. Cunningham’s Quality Investing: Success breeds excess: Make sure you own stock in companies where employees are competitive, not complacent.

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