UAL, Trailing Rivals, Reports a Fourth-Quarter Loss

CHICAGO ( TheStreet) -- United ( UAL) reported disappointing results in a quarter when rivals trumpeted their successes, but said its lingering merger problems were behind it.

Excluding items, United reported a fourth-quarter loss of $190 million, or 58 cents a share, in line with estimates. Revenue fell 2.5% to $8.7 billion, also in line with estimates. Hurricane Sandy reduced fourth-quarter capacity by about $140 million and profit by about $85 million.

Including $430 million of special charges, United reported a loss of $620 million, or $1.87 a share.

In the same quarter a year earlier, excluding items, United reported net income of $109 million, or 30 cents a share. Including items, United reported a loss of $138 million, or 42 cents a share.

During the quarter, consolidated revenue passenger miles fell 3.2% as capacity fell 4.2%, resulting in a load factor of 82.3%. Passenger revenue per available seat mile gained 0.6% while yield fell 0.4%. PRASM and yield declined in every region except for the Pacific, where PRASM gained 5.9% and yield rose 3.8%. On the cost side, cost per available seat mile excluding fuel and special items rose 4.8%.

"While we didn't meet our revenue goals in 2012, we have addressed the integration issues that drove our underperformance," said Jim Compton, vice chairman and chief revenue officer, in a prepared statement.

In 2012 "we completed the most difficult aspects of our merger integration," said CEO Jeff Smisek. "With much of our integration behind us, our significantly improved operational performance and our increasing customer satisfaction, we can now go forward as one company."

Rivals Delta ( DAL) and US Airways ( LCC) both reported strong profits in the quarter, while bankrupt AMR ( AAMRQ.PK) reported improved results.

For the full year, United reported net income excluding special items of $589 million, or $1.59 a share. Including items, the carrier lost $723 million, or $2.18 a share.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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