UAL Earnings Climb 76 Percent on Lower Costs


UAL said Tuesday its third-quarter profit surged nearly 76 percent, a better-than-expected performance due largely to pared-down costs, reduced capacity and a boost in passenger revenue at United Airlines.

It was the company's most profitable quarter in seven years, beating a record set during the previous quarter.

The parent of the nation's No. 2 carrier said it earned $334 million, or $2.21 per share, for the July-through-September quarter. That's up from $190 million, or $1.30 per share, during the same period last year.

Excluding special items, many of which were related to the company's emergence from federal bankruptcy protection last year, the company earned $295 million, or $1.96 per share, easily beating Wall Street forecasts.

Meanwhile, revenue for the Chicago-based company climbed 6.8 percent to $5.53 billion, up from $5.18 billion.

On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast earnings of $1.88 a share on revenue of $5.36 billion.

UAL shares rose 22 cents to $48.35 in morning trading Tuesday.

"We delivered excellent results this quarter driven by fundamental improvements across our core business," Chairman and Chief Executive Glenn Tilton told employees in a prepared statement. "Building on the momentum from our second quarter results, it

United said its passenger revenue per available seat mile, a key revenue measure of the amount the airline makes for each seat flown, grew 8.9 percent. Total passenger revenue on mainline flights, or that from flights not counting its regional United Express operations, climbed 7.6 percent.

Since emerging from bankruptcy in February 2006, United has restructured to trim costs and reduce domestic flight capacity -- making existing flights more crowded.