Shares of United Airlines tumble on sour outlook for 4Q profit because of rising fuel prices

Shares of United Airlines have tumbled after the carrier issued a gloomy outlook for fourth-quarter profit

ByThe Associated Press

October 18, 2023, 10:23 AM

FILE – In this July 2, 2021 file photo, a United Airlines jetliner taxis down a runway for take off from Denver International Airport in Denver. United Airlines reports earnings on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file)

The Associated Press

Shares of United Airlines tumbled 9.7% on Wednesday after the carrier gave a gloomy outlook for its fourth-quarter profit, which will be reduced by rising jet fuel prices.

In addition, United’s revenue could be under pressure the longer that flights to Israel are suspended for the Israel-Hamas war.

United’s stock suffered its biggest one-day percentage decline since July 2022. Other U.S. airline stocks also fell.

United reported after the market closed Tuesday that it earned $1.14 billion in the third quarter, beating Wall Street expectations for profit and revenue.

Investors, however, focused immediately on the airline’s prediction that fourth-quarter earnings would be between $1.50 and $1.80 per share, well below analysts’ forecast of $2.09 per share.

United said whether profit is at the high or low end of that range will depend on whether flights to Tel Aviv resume next month or remain shuttered through year end.

“Given the projections that this will be a long war, we are looking at the lower end of the forecast range and assuming no service until at least year-end,” Cowen analyst Helane Becker wrote in a note to clients.

Becker called United’s fourth-quarter outlook “bleak and worse than our estimates.”

United was flying to Tel Aviv from San Francisco, Washington, and Newark, New Jersey — more service to Israel than offered by Delta Air Lines or American Airlines. All three suspended their service shortly after Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

Other airline stocks also fell Wednesday. Delta Air Lines ended down 4.4%, American lost almost 5% and Southwest finished 4.2% lower.

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