United Announces Full-Year and Fourth-Quarter 2014 Profit - United Hub

United Announces Full-Year and Fourth-Quarter 2014 Profit

UAL Reports $1.97 Billion Full-Year Profit Excluding Special Items; $1.13 Billion Profit Including Special Items
January 22, 2015

CHICAGO, Jan. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- United Airlines (UAL) today reported full-year 2014 net income of $1.97 billion, an increase of 89 percent year-over-year, or $5.06 per diluted share, excluding $834 million of special items. Including special items, UAL reported full-year net income of $1.13 billion, or $2.93 per diluted share. UAL reported fourth-quarter 2014 net income of $461 million, an increase of 86 percent year-over-year, or $1.20 per diluted share, excluding $433 million of special items. Including special items, UAL reported fourth-quarter 2014 net income of $28 million, or $0.07 per diluted share.

  • UAL earned a 12.9 percent return on invested capital in 2014.
  • United's consolidated passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) increased 1.6 percent for full-year 2014 compared to full-year 2013.
  • Full-year 2014 consolidated unit costs (CASM), excluding special charges, third-party business expenses, fuel and profit sharing, increased 1.3 percent year-over-year on a consolidated capacity increase of 0.3 percent. Full-year 2014 CASM, including those items, decreased 1.6 percent year-over-year.
  • In 2014, United returned approximately $320 million to shareholders as part of its previously announced $1 billion share buyback program. In addition, throughout the year, United spent $310 million to retire convertible debt that was convertible into approximately 5.8 million shares of UAL common stock.
  • Employees earned $235 million in profit sharing for full-year 2014, which will be distributed on Feb. 13.
  • UAL ended the year with $5.7 billion in unrestricted liquidity.

"Thanks to the good work of the United team, we reported a $2 billion profit for 2014, excluding special items," said Jeff Smisek, UAL's chairman, president and chief executive officer. "We're starting 2015 as a better airline, and we expect to generate far better results. I'm excited about what we will do this year to improve our operations, our product, and our customer service, focusing on growing our core earnings and margins. For the first quarter, we expect our pre-tax margin to be between 5 and 7 percent, excluding special items."

Fourth-Quarter Revenue and Capacity

For the fourth quarter of 2014, total revenue was $9.3 billion, a decrease of 0.2 percent year-over-year. Fourth-quarter consolidated passenger revenue increased 1.3 percent to $8.1 billion, compared to the same period in 2013. Ancillary revenue per passenger in the fourth quarter increased 9.7 percent year-over-year to more than $22 per passenger. Fourth-quarter cargo revenue grew 18.2 percent to $260 million driven by higher volumes year-over-year, as cargo traffic recovered from the prior year's lower bookings. Other revenue in the fourth quarter decreased 14.3 percent year-over-year to $970 million mostly due to the company choosing to discontinue an agreement to sell fuel to a third party. The corresponding expense decline appears in third-party business expense.

Consolidated revenue passenger miles increased 0.1 percent and consolidated available seat miles increased 0.9 percent year-over-year for the fourth quarter, resulting in a fourth-quarter consolidated load factor of 81.7 percent.

Fourth-quarter 2014 consolidated PRASM increased 0.4 percent and consolidated yield increased 1.3 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.

Passenger revenue for the fourth quarter of 2014 and period-to-period comparisons of related statistics for UAL's mainline and regional operations are as follows:

 

Fourth-Quarter Costs

Fourth-quarter consolidated CASM, excluding special charges, third-party business expense, fuel and profit sharing, increased 1.2 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2013.  Fourth-quarter consolidated CASM including those items decreased 5.3 percent.

Fourth-quarter total operating expenses, excluding special charges, decreased $420 million, or 4.7 percent, year-over-year. Including special charges, total operating expenses decreased $406 million, or 4.5 percent, in the fourth quarter versus the same period in 2013.

Fourth-Quarter Liquidity and Cash Flow

UAL ended the fourth quarter with $5.7 billion in unrestricted liquidity, including $1.35 billion of undrawn commitments under its revolving credit facility. During the fourth quarter, the company had gross capital expenditures of $1 billion, excluding fully reimbursable projects. The company made debt and capital lease principal payments of $534 million in the fourth quarter, including prepayment of $248 million of convertible debt that was convertible into approximately 4.3 million shares of United common stock.

As part of United's $1 billion share buyback program, the company spent approximately $100 million in share repurchases in the fourth quarter. For the year, United returned a total of approximately $320 million to shareholders through share repurchases and open market transactions. In addition, for the year the company spent $310 million to retire convertible debt that was convertible into approximately 5.8 million shares.       

For the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2014, the company's return on invested capital was 12.9 percent.

"In 2014 we made significant progress towards creating long-term value for our investors while providing a better experience for our customers," said John Rainey, UAL's executive vice president and chief financial officer. "Our solid cost performance in 2014 was driven by executing on our Project Quality efficiency initiatives. As our cost initiatives mature throughout 2015, we anticipate that 2015 consolidated CASM, excluding fuel and third-party business expense, will be approximately flat."

For more information on United's first-quarter 2015 guidance, please visit ir.united.com for the company's investor update.

About United

United Airlines and United Express operate an average of 5,055 flights a day to 373 airports across six continents. In 2014, United and United Express operated nearly two million flights carrying 138 million customers. United is proud to have the world's most comprehensive route network, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. United operates nearly 700 mainline aircraft, and this year, the airline anticipates taking delivery of 34 new Boeing aircraft, including the 787-9 and the 737-900ER. United is also welcoming 49 new Embraer 175 aircraft to United Express. The airline is a founding member of Star Alliance, which provides service to 193 countries via 27 member airlines. More than 84,000 United employees reside in every U.S. state and in countries around the world. For more information, visit united.com, follow @United on Twitter or connect on Facebook. The common stock of United's parent, United Continental Holdings, Inc., is traded on the NYSE under the symbol UAL.

Safe Harbor Statement under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995: Certain statements included in this release are forward-looking and thus reflect our current expectations and beliefs with respect to certain current and future events and financial performance. Such forward-looking statements are and will be subject to many risks and uncertainties relating to our operations and business environment that may cause actual results to differ materially from any future results expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. Words such as "expects," "will," "plans," "anticipates," "indicates," "believes," "forecast," "guidance," "outlook" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Additionally, forward-looking statements include statements that do not relate solely to historical facts, such as statements which identify uncertainties or trends, discuss the possible future effects of current known trends or uncertainties or which indicate that the future effects of known trends or uncertainties cannot be predicted, guaranteed or assured. All forward-looking statements in this report are based upon information available to us on the date of this report. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, changed circumstances or otherwise, except as required by applicable law. Our actual results could differ materially from these forward-looking statements due to numerous factors including, without limitation, the following: our ability to comply with the terms of our various financing arrangements; the costs and availability of financing; our ability to maintain adequate liquidity; our ability to execute our operational plans, including optimizing our revenue; our ability to control our costs, including realizing benefits from our resource optimization efforts, cost reduction initiatives and fleet replacement programs; our ability to utilize our net operating losses; our ability to attract and retain customers; demand for transportation in the markets in which we operate; an outbreak of a disease that affects travel demand or travel behavior; demand for travel and the impact that global economic conditions have on customer travel patterns; excessive taxation and the inability to offset future taxable income; general economic conditions (including interest rates, foreign currency exchange rates, investment or credit market conditions, crude oil prices, costs of aircraft fuel and energy refining capacity in relevant markets); our ability to cost-effectively hedge against increases in the price of aircraft fuel; any potential realized or unrealized gains or losses related to fuel or currency hedging programs; the effects of any hostilities, act of war or terrorist attack; the ability of other air carriers with whom we have alliances or partnerships to provide the services contemplated by the respective arrangements with such carriers; the costs and availability of aviation and other insurance; industry consolidation or changes in airline alliances; competitive pressures on pricing and on demand; our capacity decisions and the capacity decisions of our competitors; U.S. or foreign governmental legislation, regulation and other actions (including open skies agreements and environmental regulations); labor costs; our ability to maintain satisfactory labor relations and the results of the collective bargaining agreement process with our union groups; any disruptions to operations due to any potential actions by our labor groups; weather conditions; the possibility that expected merger synergies will not be realized or will not be realized within the expected time period; and other risks and uncertainties set forth under Item 1A., Risk Factors, of UAL's Annual Report on Form 10-K, as well as other risks and uncertainties set forth from time to time in the reports we file with the SEC.

-tables attached-

 

 

 

 

2014 - Special items

 

Severance and benefit costs: During the fourth quarter of 2014, the company recorded $141 million of costs related primarily to a voluntary early-out program for its flight attendants. More than 2,500 participants elected a one-time opportunity to voluntarily separate from the company and will receive a severance payment, with a maximum value of $100,000 per participant, based on years of service, with retirement dates from November 30, 2014 through the end of 2015. The company will record additional expense associated with this program through 2015 over the remaining required service periods. In addition to the fourth quarter item, during the year ended December 31, 2014, the company recorded $58 million of severance and benefits primarily related to reductions of management and front-line employees, including from Cleveland airport, as part of its cost savings initiatives. The company is currently evaluating its options regarding its long-term contractual commitments at Cleveland. The capacity reductions at Cleveland may result in further special charges, which could be significant, related to our contractual commitments.

   
 

Integration-related costs: Integration-related costs include compensation costs related to systems integration, training, severance and relocation for employees.

 

 

Impairment of assets: During the fourth quarter of 2014, the company recorded a charge of $16 million ($10 million net of related income tax benefits) related to its annual assessment of impairment of its indefinite-lived intangible assets (primarily international Pacific routes). In addition to the fourth quarter item, during the year ended December 31, 2014, the company recorded $33 million for charges related primarily to impairment of its flight equipment held for disposal associated with its Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 fleets.

   
 

Costs associated with permanently grounding Embraer ERJ 135 aircraft: During the year ended December 31, 2014, the company recorded $66 million for the permanent grounding of 21 of the company's Embraer ERJ 135 regional aircraft under lease through 2018, which includes an accrual for remaining lease payments and an amount for maintenance return conditions. As a result of the current fuel prices, new Embraer 175 regional jet deliveries and impact of pilot shortages at regional carriers, the company decided to permanently ground these 21 Embraer ERJ 135 aircraft. The company continues to operate nine Embraer ERJ 135 aircraft and will assess the possibility of grounding those aircraft when the term of the current capacity purchase contract ends.

   
 

Loss on extinguishment of debt and other special charges, net: On October 10, 2014, United used cash to retire, at par, the entire $248 million principal balance of the 6% Convertible Junior Subordinated Debentures and the 6% Convertible Preferred Securities, Term Income Deferrable Equity Securities (TIDES). The $53 million expense is primarily associated with the write-off of non-cash debt discounts recorded on the TIDES due to purchase accounting during the merger with Continental Airlines in 2010.

   
 

MTM losses from fuel hedges settling in future periods and prior period gains (losses) on fuel contracts settled in the current period: The company utilizes certain derivative instruments that are economic hedges but do not qualify for hedge accounting under U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. The company records changes in the fair value of these economic hedges to Nonoperating income (expense): Miscellaneous, net in the statements of consolidated operations. During the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2014, the company recorded $225 million and $244 million, respectively, in MTM losses on economic hedges that will settle in future periods. For economic hedges that settled in the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2014, the company recorded MTM gains (losses) of ($18) million and $83 million, respectively, in prior periods. The figures above also include an insignificant amount of ineffectiveness on hedges that are designated for hedge accounting.

   
 

2013 - Special items

 

Severance and benefit costs: During the fourth quarter of 2013, the company recorded a $91 million severance and benefit special charge. The company offered a voluntary retirement program for its fleet service, passenger service, storekeeper and pilot workgroups. Approximately 1,200 employees volunteered during the fourth quarter and United recorded approximately $64 million of costs for the programs. The company also offered a voluntary leave of absence program that approximately 1,100 flight attendants accepted, which allowed for continued medical coverage during the leave of absence period, resulting in a charge of approximately $12 million. The remaining $15 million of severance and benefit costs is related to involuntary severance programs associated with other workgroups. During the year ended December 31, 2013, the company recorded a $14 million charge associated with a voluntary program offered by United in which flight attendants took an unpaid 13-month leave of absence. The flight attendants received medical benefits and other company benefits while on leave under this program. Approximately 1,300 flight attendants opted to participate in the program.

   
 

Integration-related costs: Integration-related costs included compensation costs related to systems integration and training, branding activities, new uniforms, write-off or acceleration of depreciation on systems and facilities that were no longer used or planned to be used for significantly shorter periods, relocation for employees and severance primarily associated with administrative headcount reductions.

   
 

Impairment of assets: During the year ended December 31, 2013, the company recorded $32 million of charges related primarily to impairment of its flight equipment held for disposal associated with its 737-300 and 737-500 fleets and a $1 million charge associated with a route to Manila to reflect the estimated fair value of this asset as part of its annual impairment test of indefinite-lived intangible assets.

   
 

Labor agreements costs: On September 26, 2013, the company announced that it had reached tentative agreements with respect to joint collective bargaining agreements with the International Association of Machinists for the fleet service, passenger service and storekeeper workgroups. The company recorded a $127 million special charge associated with lump sum cash payments that would be made in conjunction with the ratification of the agreements. The agreements were ratified and the payments were made in the fourth quarter of 2013.

   
 

Losses on sale of assets and other special (gains) losses, net: During the year ended December 31, 2013, the company recorded $18 million associated with the temporary grounding of its Boeing 787 aircraft. The charges were comprised of aircraft depreciation expense and dedicated personnel costs that the company incurred while the aircraft were grounded. The aircraft returned to service in May 2013. During the fourth quarter of 2013, the company recorded approximately $11 million in accruals for future rent associated with the early retirement of four leased 757-200 aircraft, offset by $5 million in gains on the sale of aircraft and a $5 million adjustment in legal reserves. In addition to the fourth quarter items, during the year ended December 31, 2013, the company adjusted its reserves for certain legal matters by $34 million, recorded a $5 million gain related to a contract termination and recorded $2 million in losses on the sale of assets.

   
 

MTM gains from fuel hedges settling in future periods and prior period gains on fuel contracts settled in the current period: During the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2013, the company recorded $59 million and $84 million, respectively, in MTM gains on economic hedges that settled in later periods. For economic hedges that settled in the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2013, the company recorded MTM gains of $9 million and $39 million, respectively, in prior periods. The figures above also include an insignificant amount of ineffectiveness on hedges that are designated for hedge accounting.

     

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No federal income tax expense was recognized related to the company's pretax income for the three months ended December 31, 2014, and 2013 and the year ended December 31, 2014, and 2013 due to the utilization of book net operating loss carry forwards for which no benefit has previously been recognized. The company is required to provide a valuation allowance for its deferred tax assets in excess of deferred tax liabilities because UAL concluded that it is more likely than not that such deferred tax assets will ultimately not be realized.

 

 

 

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SOURCE United Airlines

For further information: United Airlines Worldwide Media Relations, +1-872-825-8640, media.relations@united.com

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