Updated from 8:39 a.m. EDT

Continental Airlines ( CAL) easily topped Wall Street estimates, but continued to post net losses because of the high price of fuel and low ticket prices.

Continental announced a second-quarter net loss of $17 million, or 26 cents a share, which was worse than the net profit of $79 million, or $1.20 a share it had a year ago, due mainly to a $176 million reimbursement of security fees by the government.

Excluding all items, which is how Wall Street views the company, Continental earned $2 million, or 3 cents a share, in the second quarter, topping the 9-cent loss expected by analysts. Total revenue for the quarter came in at $2.51 billion, up 13.4% from last year and narrowly topping the $2.49 billion expected by analysts.

But costs continue to be an issue for Continental, which noted that crude oil prices hit an all-time high of $42.33 a barrel during the quarter, helping boost fuel costs by nearly 30% year over year. All told, the carrier's expenses came in at $4.9 billion, up 14.8% from last year, with cost per available seat mile, or CASM, coming in at 9.42 cents, up 8.7% from the year-ago quarter.

"These results remain disappointing in a year where we hoped to break even," said Gordon Bethune, Continental's chairman and CEO. "Our efforts to return to profitability were overwhelmed by the continuing soft domestic yields, a record high cost of fuel, and a $265 million burden of taxes and fees paid to the government over the last three months."

The carrier filled more seats, but made less money off them than it did a year ago, the result of low fares and increased competition. Traffic, a key demand metric measured in revenue passenger miles, grew 14.7% from last year against an increase of capacity, as measured in available seat miles, of 12.4%. With demand outpacing supply, the carrier filled 78.7% of its seats, up from 77.1% last year.

Shares rose 30 cents, or 3.2%, to $9.82.

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