United Airlines Holdings Inc. raised the low end of its profit forecast for the year and said it would earn more this quarter than Wall Street expected as the carrier benefits from burgeoning demand for international trips and still-strong fares.
Adjusted earnings in 2023 will be $11 to $12 a share, compared with an earlier outlook of at least $10, United said in a statement Wednesday that also detailed second-quarter results. The revised range is well above the $9.80 average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
United is the latest major US carrier to benefit from strength in global travel as demand shifts from a more domestic-focused surge coming out of the depths of the pandemic. With capacity still partially limited by supply constraints, planes are expected to remain full as the industry looks beyond the peak summer travel season. International yield, or average fare per mile, climbed almost 9% in the second quarter.
United shares rose 3.6% as of 4:03 p.m. after regular trading in New York Wednesday. The stock climbed about 45% this year through the close. United executives will discuss the results in more detail on a conference call Thursday.
The Chicago-based carrier expects adjusted earnings in the third quarter of $3.85 to $4.35 a share, topping the $3.68 average estimate. United expects revenue to climb as much as 13% over 2022 but hasn’t provided guidance for the full year. Capacity will increase 16% this quarter, and about 18% for the year, in line with an earlier projection for the “high teens.”
Adjusted profit in the second quarter was $5.03 a share, compared with Wall Street’s expectation of $3.99. Revenue rose to $14.18 billion.
Delta Air Lines Inc. said a week ago that it will make more money this quarter than analysts anticipated on the strength of soaring international demand, and boosted its full-year profit expectations for the second time in three weeks. A group of 11 US carriers is expected to report a record $58 billion in revenue for the second quarter on strong demand, and operating profit of $7.9 billion, according to Michael Linenberg, a Deutsche Bank analyst.
United on Tuesday announced new international routes as part of its trans-Pacific expansion, including flights between Los Angeles and Hong Kong starting in October. The company remains limited in the number of direct flights it can operate between the US and mainland China due to tensions between the nations.
The carrier also is grappling with the fallout from disruption at its Newark, New Jersey, hub last month. A series of storms that hit the northeastern US during the last week of June delayed 54% of United’s flights and forced the cancellation of nearly 20%, according to FlightAware.com data. The cost of the disruptions is included in United’s guidance for the third quarter and full year.
Newark Liberty International Airport, a United gateway for both domestic and international flights, has been a thorn in the carrier’s side for some time with issues over capacity management at the congested airport. The airline has been pushing federal regulators for more than a year to adjust departures and arrivals, in part because disruptions can ripple across its network.