A United Airlines plane takes off from San Francisco International Airport.
Gary Hershorn | Corbis News | Getty Images
United Airlines posted a better-than-expected third quarter loss on Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic continued to drag demand for air travel but the airline cut its cash burn.
Here's how United performed compared to Wall Street's expectations, based on Refinitiv's average estimates:
Adjusted earnings per share: a loss of $ 8.16 versus an expected loss of $ 7.53 per share. Revenue: $ 2.49 billion versus $ 2.50 billion expected.
The Chicago-based airline posted a net loss of $ 1.8 billion for the three months ended September 30, compared with a profit of $ 1 billion a year ago.
Revenue for the reporting period was down 78% from $ 11.38 billion in Q3 2019 to $ 2.49 billion, roughly in line with Wall Street expectations after the airline cut capacity by 70% year over year would have. Without one-time items, United posted loss per share of $ 8.16, compared to analysts' estimates of loss per share of $ 7.53.
Airlines struggled during the pandemic, particularly large airlines like United, Delta and American, which relied heavily on international and business areas, two of the worst hit segments.
United's results come a day after Delta reported a net loss of $ 5.4 billion for the third quarter.
United reduced its daily cash burn for the quarter to $ 25 million per day, including debt and severance payments, from an average of $ 40 million per day in the previous quarter.
The airline ended the quarter with $ 19.4 billion in liquidity. Like other airlines, United raised billions to survive the coronavirus through stock and debt sales, including $ 6.8 billion in debt covered by the MileagePlus frequent flyer program. US airlines also received $ 25 billion in payroll portions that expired after September 30, opening the door to downsizing.
United began vacationing around 13,000 employees earlier this month after terms of federal payroll support expired. United and other airlines are pushing for additional help, but Congress and the White House have repeatedly failed to reach a coronavirus stimulus deal that could include the additional relief for airlines.
While many prospects stayed home over the summer, United's freight business was a bright spot in the quarter. Revenue increased 50% to $ 422 million. This shows the importance of certain areas of the airline in the pandemic.
United's shares were down 0.4% in post-market trading.
Executives will walk investors through the results on Thursday at 10:30 am ET.