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United Airlines Announces Third-Quarter Profit

October 22, 2015

CHICAGO, Oct. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines (UAL) today reported third-quarter 2015 financial results.

  • UAL reported third-quarter net income of $1.7 billion, or $4.53 per diluted share, excluding special items.
  • Including special items, UAL reported third-quarter net income of $4.8 billion. These results include a nonrecurring $3.2 billion non-cash gain associated with the reversal of the company's income tax valuation allowance.

"I want to thank all of our employees for their hard work, professionalism and contributions to another successful quarter. The United family has had a challenging few weeks, but we have never felt more unified and are committed to making the right investments in our people and providing them the tools they need to deliver excellent service to our customers," said Brett Hart, acting CEO of United. "With Oscar Munoz on medical leave, this leadership team and I are working to push forward the agenda we laid out over the past six weeks by focusing on our employees, improving our processes and investing in our systems to further improve our margins."

Third-Quarter Revenue and Capacity

For the third quarter of 2015, total revenue was $10.3 billion, a decrease of 2.4 percent year-over-year. In the quarter, the company amended its co-branded credit card marketing services agreement, which led to approximately $100 million of incremental revenue. This was more than offset by the declines in passenger revenue.

Third-quarter 2015 consolidated PRASM decreased 5.8 percent and consolidated yield decreased 5.6 percent compared to the third quarter of 2014. The declines in PRASM and yield were driven largely by a strong U.S. dollar, lower surcharges, travel reductions from corporate customers in the energy sector and softening in domestic yields. "Fourth-quarter pre-tax margin is expected to be between 9.5 and 11.5 percent, excluding special items," Hart added.

Passenger revenue for the third quarter of 2015 and period-to-period comparisons of related statistics for UAL's mainline and regional operations are included in the tables in the back of this document.

Third-Quarter Costs

Total operating expense excluding special items was $8.3 billion in the third quarter, down 10.7 percent year-over-year. Including special charges, total operating expense was $8.4 billion, a 10.3 percent decrease year-over-year. The decrease was driven by lower oil prices and good non-fuel cost performance as a result of a strong U.S. dollar, improved operational performance and the company's Project Quality efficiency and quality initiative. Consolidated unit cost (CASM), excluding special charges, third-party business expenses, fuel and profit sharing decreased 1.5 percent compared to the third quarter of 2014. Consolidated CASM including those items decreased 12.1 percent year-over-year.

Liquidity and Capital Allocation

In the third quarter, UAL generated $1.3 billion in operating cash flow, $627 million in free cash flow, and ended the quarter with $6.9 billion in unrestricted liquidity, including $1.35 billion of undrawn commitments under its revolving credit facility. During the third quarter, the company continued to invest in its business through gross capital expenditures of approximately $716 million, excluding fully reimbursable projects. These investments include new aircraft purchases, aircraft refurbishments and investments in the company's hubs at New York/Newark, San Francisco, Houston and Chicago.

The company spent $230 million to complete its initial $1 billion share buyback program in the quarter and spent an additional $32 million toward its new $3 billion authorization, bringing the total returned to shareholders in the quarter to $262 million.

UAL earned a 19.8 percent return on invested capital for the 12 months ended September 30, 2015.

For more information on UAL's fourth-quarter 2015 guidance, please visit ir.united.com for the company's investor update.

About United

United Airlines and United Express operate an average of nearly 5,000 flights a day to 352 airports across six continents. In 2014, United and United Express operated nearly two million flights carrying 138 million customers. United is proud to have the world's most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. United operates more than 700 mainline aircraft, and this year, the airline anticipates taking delivery of 34 new Boeing aircraft, including the 787-9 and the 737-900ER. United is also welcoming 49 new Embraer E175 aircraft to United Express. The airline is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 192 countries via 28 member airlines. Approximately 84,000 United employees reside in every U.S. state and in countries around the world. For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United's parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the NYSE under the symbol UAL.

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Certain statements included in this release are forward-looking and thus reflect our current expectations and beliefs with respect to certain current and future events and financial performance. Such forward-looking statements are and will be subject to many risks and uncertainties relating to our operations and business environment that may cause actual results to differ materially from any future results expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. Words such as "expects," "will," "plans," "anticipates," "indicates," "believes," "forecast," "guidance," "outlook," "goals" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Additionally, forward-looking statements include statements that do not relate solely to historical facts, such as statements which identify uncertainties or trends, discuss the possible future effects of current known trends or uncertainties or which indicate that the future effects of known trends or uncertainties cannot be predicted, guaranteed or assured. All forward-looking statements in this report are based upon information available to us on the date of this report. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise, except as required by applicable law. Our actual results could differ materially from these forward-looking statements due to numerous factors including, without limitation, the following: our ability to comply with the terms of our various financing arrangements; the costs and availability of financing; our ability to maintain adequate liquidity; our ability to execute our operational plans, including optimizing our revenue; our ability to control our costs, including realizing benefits from our resource optimization efforts, cost reduction initiatives and fleet replacement programs; our ability to utilize our net operating losses; our ability to attract and retain customers; demand for transportation in the markets in which we operate; an outbreak of a disease that affects travel demand or travel behavior; demand for travel and the impact that global economic conditions have on customer travel patterns; excessive taxation and the inability to offset future taxable income; general economic conditions (including interest rates, foreign currency exchange rates, investment or credit market conditions, crude oil prices, costs of aircraft fuel and energy refining capacity in relevant markets); our ability to cost-effectively hedge against increases in the price of aircraft fuel; any potential realized or unrealized gains or losses related to fuel or currency hedging programs; the effects of any hostilities, act of war or terrorist attack; the ability of other air carriers with whom we have alliances or partnerships to provide the services contemplated by the respective arrangements with such carriers; the costs and availability of aviation and other insurance; industry consolidation or changes in airline alliances; competitive pressures on pricing and on demand; our capacity decisions and the capacity decisions of our competitors; U.S. or foreign governmental legislation, regulation and other actions (including open skies agreements and environmental regulations); the impact of regulatory, investigative and legal proceedings and legal compliance risks; the impact of any management changes; labor costs; our ability to maintain satisfactory labor relations and the results of the collective bargaining agreement process with our union groups; any disruptions to operations due to any potential actions by our labor groups; weather conditions; and other risks and uncertainties set forth under Item 1A., Risk Factors, of UAL's Annual Report on Form 10-K, as well as other risks and uncertainties set forth from time to time in the reports we file with the SEC.

-tables attached-

 

 

 


2015 - Special items




Severance and benefits: During the three and nine months ended September 30, 2015, the company recorded $28 million and $103 million, respectively, of severance and benefits primarily related to a voluntary early-out program for its flight attendants. In 2014, more than 2,500 flight attendants elected to voluntarily separate from the company and will receive a severance payment, with a maximum value of $100,000 per participant, based on years of service, with retirement dates through the end of 2016.






Integration-related costs: Integration-related costs include compensation costs related primarily to systems integration and training for employees.




(Gains) losses on sale of assets and other special charges: During the three and nine months ended September 30, 2015, the company recorded $33 million and $45 million, respectively, for losses on the sale of one aircraft, the impairment of several engines held for sale and discontinued internal software projects.






Loss on extinguishment of debt: During the nine months ended September 30, 2015, the company recorded $134 million of losses as part of Nonoperating income (expense): Miscellaneous, net due to the write-off of the unamortized non-cash debt discount related to the extinguishment of the 6% Notes due 2026 and 6% Notes due 2028.




Venezuela currency loss: During the third quarter of 2015, the company recorded a $61 million foreign exchange loss related to its cash holdings in Venezuela. The Venezuelan government has maintained currency controls and fixed official exchange rates (i.e. Sistema Complementario de Administracion de Divisas, or SICAD, and Sistema Marginal de Divisas, or SIMADI) for many years. Previously, airlines were permitted to use the more favorable SICAD rate (currently 13.5 Venezuelan bolivars to one U.S. dollar) if repatriating profits and for payments of local goods and services in Venezuela. During 2015, many of the payments for local goods and services have transitioned to utilizing the SIMADI rate (currently 200 Venezuelan bolivars to one U.S. dollar) or have been required to be paid in U.S. dollars. Furthermore, the Venezuelan government has not permitted the exchange and repatriations of local currency since mid-2014. As a result, the Company has decided to change the exchange rate from historical SICAD rates to a combination of SIMADI and SICAD rates based on projections of future cash payments. Including this adjustment, the company's resulting cash balance held in Venezuelan bolivars at September 30, 2015 is approximately $15 million.




MTM losses from fuel derivative contracts settling in future periods and prior period gains (losses) on fuel derivative contracts settled in the current period: The company uses certain combinations of derivative contracts that are economic hedges but do not qualify for hedge accounting under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Additionally, the company may enter into contracts at different times and later combine those contracts into structures designated for hedge accounting. As with derivatives that qualify for hedge accounting, the economic hedges and individual contracts are part of the company's program to mitigate the adverse financial impact of potential increases in the price of fuel. The company records changes in the fair value of these various contracts that are not designated for hedge accounting to Nonoperating income (expense):

Miscellaneous, net in the statements of consolidated operations. During the three and nine months ended September 30, 2015, the company recorded $36 million and $28 million, respectively, in MTM losses on fuel derivative contracts that will settle in future periods. For fuel derivative contracts that settled in the three and nine months ended September 30, 2015, the company recorded MTM losses of $69 million and $173 million, respectively, in prior periods. The figures above also include an insignificant amount of ineffectiveness on hedges that are designated for hedge accounting.




2014 - Special items




Severance and benefits: During the nine months ended September 30, 2014, the company recorded $58 million of severance and benefits primarily related to reductions of management and front-line employees, including from Hopkins International Airport (Cleveland), as part of its cost savings initiatives. The company reduced its average daily departures from Cleveland by over 60 percent during the second quarter of 2014. The company is currently evaluating its options regarding its long-term contractual commitments at Cleveland. The capacity reductions at Cleveland may result in further special charges, which could be significant, related to our contractual commitments.




Integration-related costs: Integration-related costs included compensation costs related to systems integration, training, severance and relocation for employees.




Costs associated with permanently grounding Embraer ERJ 135 aircraft: During the nine months ended September 30, 2014, the company recorded $66 million for the permanent grounding of 21 of the company's Embraer ERJ 135 regional aircraft under lease through 2018, which included an accrual for remaining lease payments and an amount for maintenance return conditions. The company decided to permanently ground these 21 Embraer ERJ 135 aircraft as a result of new Embraer E175 regional jet deliveries, the impact of pilot shortages at regional carriers and fuel prices.




(Gains)/losses on sale of assets and other special charges: During the nine months ended September 30, 2014, the company recorded $33 million for charges related primarily to the impairment of its flight equipment held for disposal associated with its Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 fleets and incurred losses on sales of aircraft and other assets and other special losses totaling $28 million.




Venezuela currency loss: During the nine months ended September 30, 2014, the company recorded $21 million of losses due to exchange rate changes in Venezuela applicable to funds held in local currency.




MTM losses from fuel derivative contracts settling in future periods and prior period gains on fuel derivative contracts settled in the current period: The company utilizes certain derivative instruments that are economic hedges but do not qualify for hedge accounting under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. The company records changes in the fair value of these economic hedges to Nonoperating income (expense): Miscellaneous, net in the statements of consolidated operations. During the three and nine months ended September 30, 2014, the company recorded $95 million and $57 million, respectively, in MTM losses on economic hedges that will settle in future periods. For economic hedges that settled in the three and nine months ended September 30, 2014, the company recorded MTM gains of $16 million and $63 million, respectively, in prior periods. The figures above also include an insignificant amount of ineffectiveness on hedges that are designated for hedge accounting.




(C)

The company's income tax benefit was $3.2 billion for both the third quarter of 2015 and nine months ended September 30, 2015. This compares to an income tax benefit of $4 million in the third quarter of 2014 and a $1 million tax provision for the nine months ended September 30, 2014. A discrete tax benefit of $3.1 billion for the reduction to the U.S. net federal deferred tax asset valuation allowance and an approximately $100 million tax benefit related to a reduction to the net state deferred tax asset valuation allowance was included in the income tax benefit for the third quarter of 2015 and nine months ended September 30, 2015.







 

 

 

 

 

 

 

United Airlines logo.

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SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, +1-872-825-8640, media.relations@united.com