SOURCE: Five Star Equities

Five Star Equities

October 31, 2012 08:20 ET

Airlines Performing Well Despite Slowing Economy - IATA Raises Profit Forecasts of North American by $500 Million in 2012

Five Star Equities Provides Stock Research on United Continental Holdings and Alaska Air Group

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Oct 31, 2012) - The U.S. Airlines Industry has reported respectable earnings for the third quarter despite facing a slowdown in the global economy. The Guggenheim Airline ETF (FAA), which tracks the performance of the NYSE ARCA Global Airline Index, has posted a respectable gain of 8 percent over the last three months, compared to the S&P 500 Index's gain of 5.5 percent over the same period. Five Star Equities examines the outlook for companies in the Airlines Industry and provides equity research on United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) and Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE: ALK).

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Airlines companies have done an admirable job battling rising fuel costs by initiating fare hikes and promotions to keep planes full. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently raised their profit outlook for the global airline industry to $4.1 billion in 2012 from their previous estimate of $3 billion. North American carriers saw the biggest increase as the IATA raised it forecasts by $500 million to $1.9 billion.

"Every airline has to do a little bit of cost cutting because the world is a different place today than we thought six months ago, but there are some encouraging signs," said Jeff Kauffman, a Sterne, Agee & Leach Inc. analyst. "Despite all the doom and gloom, these airlines are making some pretty good money in a pretty slow environment."

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United Airlines and United Express operate an average of 5,557 flights a day to 378 airports on six continents. For the third quarter of 2012, total revenue was $9.9 billion, a decrease of 2.6 percent year-over-year. "This was a challenging quarter for our team, but we continued to build a solid financial foundation for our future," said John Rainey, UAL's executive vice president and CFO.

Alaska Air Group's third quarter profit of $163.4 million was "the best quarterly profit" in its history. "Our pretax profit margin was one of the best in the industry, and it was made possible by the great service our people provide, low fares, and strong demand. We recognize this is a difficult industry, but we're committed to working together to sustain this high level of performance in the quarters and years ahead."

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