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UAL's Loss Narrows as Operating Expenses Decline

October 31, 2003|From Associated Press

CHICAGO — A busy summer travel season and lower costs helped boost United Airlines' parent to its first quarterly operating profit since 2000 but were not enough to offset heavy bankruptcy expenses, resulting in a $367-million net loss in the third quarter.

Despite UAL Corp.'s 13th consecutive quarter in the red, Chief Executive Glenn Tilton touted significant financial improvement as evidence that the airline's nearly year-old reorganization under Bankruptcy Court protection is on track.

"We are making tremendous progress in reducing costs, improving revenue and building a strong, sustainable business for the future," Tilton said Thursday.

The latest results were weighed down by $330 million in special charges and reorganization expenses that resulted in a net loss of $3.47 a share. That compared with a loss a year earlier of $889 million, or $15.57 a share.

Excluding those charges, the loss of 36 cents a share easily beat analysts' consensus estimate of a loss of $1.52 a share.

Total sales rose 2% to $3.82 billion from $3.74 billion, thanks to a 12% jump in revenue from passengers.

Perhaps the most noteworthy number signifying United's progress, though, was an operating profit of $19 million.

Shares of Elk Grove Township, Ill.-based UAL rose 25 cents to $1.08 in over-the-counter trading.

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