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United Continental: And Here Comes the Downgrade

United Continental (UAL) has taken some unusual steps of late, including its decision to go head-to-head with ultra-low-cost carrierSpirit Airlines (SAVE), when investors apparently want it to focus on closing its margin gap with Delta Air Lines (DAL) and American Airlines (AAL). So it should be no surprise that shares of United Continental are dropping today after it announced that its revenue-per-available-seat mile, an industry metric, would drop 3% to 5% during the third quarter, down from its previous projection of a 1% drop to a 1% gain.

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And with that, CFRA Research's Jim Corridore cut United Continental Holdings to Buy from Strong Buy:

We cut our 12-month target price to $80 from $95, an Enterprise Value-to-EBITDAR (EBITDA plus aircraft rent) multiple of 6X our'18 estimate, in line with peers. We cut our'17 adjusted EPS estimates to $7.70 from $7.80 and'18's to $8.50 from $8.92. UAL sees Q3 unit revenues down 3%-5% from prior view of down 1% to up 1%, and cuts pretax margin guidance to 8%-10% from 12.5%-14.5%. We find the shares attractively valued relative to peers and historical levels. Rising fuel costs, a more challenging pricing environment and storm activity warrant a somewhat less bullish view.

Shares of United Continental have dropped 4.1% to $58.62 at 10:45 a.m. today, while Delta Air Lines has risen 0.4% to $46.01, American Airlines has advanced 0.4% to $44.05, and Spirit Airlines has fallen 1.4% to $32.05.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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