United Continental Holdings Shares Fall After Earnings Call
United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE:UAL) saw its shares fall steeply after its most recent conference call with analysts and investors. During its earnings call, company executives faced a firestorm of questions about the company’s performance. United has struggled to keep costs down and maintain its market share since its 2010 merger with Continental Airlines.
On a routine quarterly conference call, investors asked when the airline will scale back flight capacity to reduce pressure on fares. That question was largely avoided. CEO Oscar Munoz and his deputies also declined to provide specifics on progress made towards the financial targets the U.S. carrier laid out last November.
Munoz acknowledged during the call that the company has dug itself into “a little bit of a competitive hole.” Munoz took over in September 2015 after his predecessor was ousted amid a scandal involving collusion with elected officials.
Apparently, the answers were not sufficient to quell investors’ concerns. United Airlines shares plunged 12 percent after the call. That was the steepest drop since October 2009. United’s shares are down nearly 18 percent so far this year.
The company has been trying earn back customers’ trust since April after a high-profile customer service scandal rocked the company. The forced removal of a passenger from one of its flights left the customer bloodied and with a broken nose. The ordeal resulted in widespread outrage and condemnation on social media.
The company was also rocked by some circumstances out of its control. This year’s unusually disastrous hurricane season forced thousands of flight cancellations. There is also uncertainty surrounding the Trump Administration’s efforts to ban visitors from certain countries from entering America, which has affected nearly all of the carriers.
United recently announced that has significantly reduced the number of times a passenger has been removed from a flight due to overbooking. According to the company, it didn’t have to involuntarily deny boarding to a single passenger for 28 days out of the last quarter. Prior to this year, United didn’t have a single day with zero passengers denied boarding.
The company has made some bold moves in its effort to get back on track. United is now offering cheaper tickets for no-amenities flights in an effort to compete with low-cost carriers. The company is also continuing to work on revamping its customer service and embarking on cost cutting measures to strengthen its balance sheet.
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