United Airlines Shares Slump on Deep Quarterly Loss; Lost $7.1 Billion in 2020

United Airlines reported worse-than-expected earnings in the fourth quarter with net loss ballooning to $1.9 billion and to $7.1 billion for the full-year 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions hammered air travel demand, sending its shares down about 3% in extended trading on Wednesday.

Chicago, Illinois-based airline reported fourth-quarter adjusted net loss of $2.1 billion, or a loss of $7 per share. That missed Wall Street’s estimates for a loss of $6.56 per share. The airlines’ reported loss of $7.7 billion for the full-year 2020 and total operating revenue declined 69% to $3.4 billion from the same quarter in 2019.

“Domestic remained the relative source of strength for the airline, as revenues fell 72% compared to international down 83%. The one source of relative strength on the international side was Latin America, which saw revenues decline by just 65% y-o-y as leisure demand to the region has remained strong. Cargo revenue was another source of strength, increasing 77% y-o-y, with other operating revenue declining by 31% y-o-y,” wrote Sheila Kahyaoglu, equity analyst at Jefferies.

The airline which operates a large domestic and international route network spanning cities large and small across the United States and all six continents said over the last three quarters, the company has identified $1.4 billion of annual cost savings and has a path to achieve at least $2.0 billion in structural reductions moving forward.

United Airlines forecasts the first quarter 2021 total operating revenue to be down 65-70% versus the first quarter of 2019. Accelerated distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine may lead to faster improvement, however, the company is not including this potential improvement in its first-quarter 2021 revenue outlook. The airline forecast first-quarter 2021 capacity to be down at least 51%.

United Airlines shares slumped about 3% to $43.97 in extended trading on Wednesday; the stock plunged 50% in 2020.

Analyst Comments

“United reported 4Q20 adjusted EPS slightly below our and Street expectations. Near term revenue trends are slightly worse than expected, but likely not a major focus for investors. Management targeted +$2 Bn in annual costs savings that should allow them to exceed2019 EBITDA margins by 2023. Many will look for comments on summer bookings as a snapback in 2H21 travel is expected,” said Helane Becker, equity analyst at Cowen and company.

“Trading activity will likely hinge on management comments about summer bookings and if they’ve seen any increased activity to support the idea of pent-up demand. The idea of a strong 2H21 will be dictated by vaccine distribution, something the Biden administration should push aggressively early in his administration.”

United Airlines Stock Price Forecast

Thirteen analysts who offered stock ratings for United Airlines in the last three months forecast the average price in 12 months at $48.91 with a high forecast of $62.00 and a low forecast of $32.00.

The average price target represents an 8.26% increase from the last price of $45.18. From those 13 analysts, four rated “Buy”, five rated “Hold” and four rated “Sell”, according to Tipranks.

Morgan Stanley gave a base target price of $37 with a high of $79 under a bull scenario and $21 under the worst-case scenario. The firm currently has an “Underweight” rating on the airline holding company’s stock.

“Why Underweight? We believe United Airlines (UAL) has the most challenged network of any airline in our coverage based on our path for a COVID-19 recovery and a levered balance sheet, which could limit rebound opportunities. In addition, UAL’s new CEO Scott Kirby (former COO) is very well regarded by investors but investors may wait to see evidence that UAL is indeed focused on cost improvement rather than aggressive growth (at the cost of PRASM) before giving the stock credit,” said Ravi Shanker, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Several other analysts have also recently commented on the stock. Stifel raised the target price to $47 from $33. Cowen and company upped to outperform from market perform, raising the price objective to $53 from $34. BNP Paribas issued an “underperform” rating and a $32 target price for the company. Citigroup reduced their price target to $43 from $47 and set a “buy” rating.

In addition, Zacks Investment Research downgraded to a “sell” rating from a “hold” and set a $38 price target. Jefferies Financial Group issued a “hold” rating and a $45 price target. At last, Exane BNP Paribas issued an “underperform” rating and a $32 price target for the company.

Check out FX Empire’s earnings calendar

Earnings to Watch Next Week: Logitech, Goldman Sachs, NetFlix and IBM in Focus

Next week’s earnings are of much significance for major market movements as 2021 is believed to be a year of recovery on hopes of successful roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Earnings Calendar For The Week Of January 18

Monday (January 18)


Logitech International S.A., a Swiss-American manufacturer of computer peripherals and software, is expected to report a profit of $1.08 in the fiscal third quarter, which represents year-over-year growth of about 29% from the same quarter last year when the company reported 84 cents per share.

The Lausanne-based company’s revenue to grow over 35% year-over-year to $1.23 billion from $902.69 million in the same period last year.

“We are bullish into Logitech‘s F3Q21 earnings report next week as our December quarter checks point to a better than the expected market environment, most notably for PC peripherals. We’d be buyers into the print and raise our PT to $113 (from $106) to account for recent peer multiple expansion,” noted Erik Woodring, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Tuesday (January 19)


GOLDMAN SACHS: New York-based leading global investment bank is expected to report a profit of $7.33 in the fourth quarter, which represents year-over-year growth of about 56% from the same quarter last year when the company reported $4.69 per share. The bank’s revenue is expected to dip 4.9% from the year-ago quarter to $9.47 billion.

“As market volatility and the urgency around capital raising activity (both equity and debt) subside in 2021, we expect total revenues decline 11% y/y from a strong 2020. We are valuing the group on normalized 2023 EPS. While we still see 15%+ upside to Goldman Sachs (GS) based on this methodology, we see even more upside elsewhere in the group, particularly in consumer finance stocks which have been under more pressure,” said Betsy Graseck, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“This drives our Underweight rating. Over time, we expect GS can drive some multiple expansion as management executes on its multi-year strategic shift towards higher recurring revenues.”

NETFLIX: California-based global internet entertainment service company is expected to report a profit of $1.35 in the fourth quarter, which represents year-over-year growth of about 4% from the same quarter last year when the company reported $1.30 per share. The streaming video pioneer’s revenue is expected to surge over 20% from the year-ago quarter to $6.60 billion.

“We expect paid net adds to come in the above guide, helped by ongoing shutdowns & seasonal strength. Our view is supported by our positive proprietary 4Q20 survey data, which implies rising pricing power into year-end. We tweaked estimate’s & introduced ’21 quarters; in turn, our DCF-based price target rises to $650 from $625 prior; reiterate ‘Outperform’ rating,” said John Blackledge, equity analyst at Cowen and company.

NetFlix (NFLX) shares were +67% in ’20 alongside a pandemic surge, following massive sub beats in 1Q / 2Q respectively and 28.1MM total paid net adds in 1Q-3Q ’20, up 47% y/y. With consumers staying home amid colder weather & limited social activities, we expect Netflix engagement to remain high; meanwhile, to the extent, there is any NT pressure on UCAN paid subs from the 4Q US price increase, we would consider this a buying opportunity for NFLX shares as the co. grows the value prop alongside rising ARPU.”


Ticker Company EPS Forecast
PACW Pacwest Bancorp $0.67
CMA Comerica $1.18
ONB Old National Bancorp $0.38
SCHW Charles Schwab $0.65
GS Goldman Sachs $7.33
STT State Street $1.57
HAL Halliburton $0.15
FULT Fulton Financial $0.27
JBHT J B Hunt Transport Services $1.30
ZION Zions Bancorporation $1.01
PNFP Pinnacle Financial Partners $1.36
FNB FNB $0.24
UCBI United Community Banks $0.60
NFLX Netflix $1.35
IBKR Interactive Brokers $0.58
RNST Renasant $0.59
SBNY Signature Bank $2.91

Wednesday (January 20)


UNITEDHEALTH: Minnesota-based health insurance and health care data analysis giant is expected to report a profit of $2.41 in the fourth quarter, which represents a year-over-year decline of about 40% from the same quarter last year when the company reported $3.90 per share.

The largest insurance company by Net Premiums is witnessing a slowdown in its international business as increased joblessness due to the COVID-19 pandemic has dented demand for commercial membership.

UnitedHealth Group is the number one Medicare Advantage player with 28% market share, the number two Medicare PDP player with 20% market share, and the number two commercial player with 15% market share. United’s model is enhanced via vertical integration with its OptumRx PBM platform, which is one of the three largest PBMs in the country,” wrote Ricky Goldwasser, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“With a large lead in the breadth of services offerings and considerable exposure to government businesses, UnitedHealth is well-positioned for any potential changes in the US healthcare system. A strong balance sheet and continued solid cash generation give flexibility for continued M&A.”

United Airlines is expected to report a deep loss in the fourth quarter due to the COIVD-19 pandemic, which harmed demand for travel.

Ohio-based Tide detergent and Pampers diaper manufacturer Procter & Gamble is expected to report an increase in profits on rising demand for home care and laundry products amid the COIVD-19 pandemic.


Ticker Company EPS Forecast
UNH UnitedHealth $2.41
PG Procter & Gamble $1.51
ASML Asml $2.96
MS Morgan Stanley $1.30
USB US Bancorp $0.95
BK Bank Of New York Mellon $0.88
FAST Fastenal $0.33
CFG Citizens Financial $0.91
CBSH Commerce Bancshares $0.92
BOKF BOK Financial $1.92
FCEL Fuelcell Energy -$0.07
KMI Kinder Morgan $0.24
DFS Discover Financial Services $2.36
UAL United Airlines Holdings -$6.56
AA Alcoa $0.09
WTFC Wintrust Financial $1.41
UMPQ Umpqua $0.48
HWC Hancock Whitney Corp $0.90
PLXS Plexus $1.10
STL Sterling Bancorp $0.46
PTC PTC $0.65

Thursday (January 21)


IBM: Armonk, New York-based technology and consulting company is expected to report a profit of $1.81 in the fourth quarter, which represents a year-over-year decline of over 60% from the same quarter last year when the company reported $4.71 per share.

“For 2020, IBM refrained from providing any guidance, citing business uncertainty. Nevertheless, management stated that the fourth quarter is a seasonally strong quarter. The company is witnessing robust pipelines across hybrid cloud and data platform, AI solutions, in Cognitive Apps business driven by strength in Cloud Paks and Security, cloud-based transformation services in GBS segment, and App modernization offerings,” noted analysts at ZACKS Research.

“Also, management is banking on advancement in Red Hat “actual backlog growth.” Moreover, gains from the rapid uptake of IBM z15 is anticipated to be a tailwind. The company also anticipates to end 2020 with reduced debt levels.”


Ticker Company EPS Forecast
UNP Union Pacific $2.24
TFC Truist Financial Corp $0.85
TAL TAL International $0.04
TRV Travelers Companies $3.16
BKR Baker Hughes Co $0.17
FITB Fifth Third Bancorp $0.68
NTRS Northern $1.49
MTB M&T Bank $3.02
KEY KEY $0.43
CTXS Citrix Systems $1.34
HOMB Home Bancshares $0.39
INDB Independent Bank $1.02
FBC Flagstar Bancorp $2.36
WBS Webster Financial $0.75
BKU BankUnited $0.71
WNS Wns Holdings $0.59
INTC Intel $1.10
IBM IBM $1.81
ISRG Intuitive Surgical $3.09
CSX CSX $1.01
PPG PPG Industries $1.58
SIVB SVB Financial $3.79
TCBI Texas Capital Bancshares $1.13
ASB Associated Banc $0.30
PBCT People’s United Financial $0.32
OZK Bank Ozk $0.78
WAL Western Alliance Bancorporation $1.33
BKRKY Bank Rakyat $0.17
MTCH Match Group $0.50
MTG MGIC Investment $0.37
STX Seagate Technology $1.13

Friday (January 22)

Ticker Company EPS Forecast
EDU New Oriental Education Tech $0.26
ABBV AbbVie $2.86
HON Honeywell International $2.00
SLB Schlumberger $0.17
KSU Kansas City Southern $1.93
RF Regions Financial $0.42
HBAN Huntington Bancshares $0.29
ALLY Ally Financial $1.05
FHN First Horizon National $0.28
HRC Hill-Rom $1.05
NEP Nextera Energy Partners $0.39
IBN Icici $0.14
TOP Topdanmark A/S kr3.63


3 Airline Stocks Ready for Takeoff

Coronavirus-induced stay-at-home orders and border closures have wreaked havoc on the airline industry in 2020. Furthermore, a move to remote working during the pandemic threatens to significantly reduce corporate travel moving forward. Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently said he expects business travel to disappear by over 50% longer-term. “My prediction would be that over 50% of business travel and over 30% of days in the office will go away,” Gates told the New York Times’ Dealbook conference, per CNBC.

However, over the past month, airline stocks have flown back into favor with investors after successful COVID-19 vaccine breakthroughs give hope that pre-pandemic travel levels may return as more people take to the skies. Below, we take a look at the three largest airline stocks by market capitalization.

Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV)

The Dallas-based low-cost carrier operates over 700 aircraft in an all-Boeing 737 fleet, primarily targeting leisure and independent small business customers. Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lifted its 20-month ban of the troubled Boeing 737 Max from flying passengers Wednesday, Southwest said the jet wouldn’t re-enter service until later next year. From a technical standpoint, the share price broke out above a nine-month downtrend line that may see it retest its pre-pandemic high at $58.83. The airline has a market cap of $27.35 billion.

Delta Air Lines, Inc. (DAL)

With a market cap of $25.67 billion, Delta flies to over 300 destinations in more than 50 countries. The company announced in September that it plans to borrow $6.5 billion, backed by its frequent-flyer loyalty program to secure liquidity to ride out the tail end of the pandemic.

More recently, the full-service airline canceled one in every five flights it was scheduled to operate on Thanksgiving Day amid crew shortages brought about by the health crisis. Turning to the charts, a recent cross of the 50-day SMA back above the 200-day SMA and breakout above a multi-month downtrend line may lead to further gains toward crucial overhead resistance at $51.

United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (UAL)

United Airlines operates as a full-service carrier through its strategically located hubs in San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, and Washington, D.C. Last month, Raymond James’ airline analyst Savanthi Syth upgraded the airline’s stock to ‘Outperform’ from ‘Market Perform’ and reiterated the firm’s $60 price target.

Syth argues the company sits in a better position than its competitors for a travel revival after securing a pilot agreement through 2022. He also noted that United has no pending fleet retirements, allowing it to rapidly increase capacity when demand picks up. Moving on to the chart, a comprehensive breakout above a crucial downtrend line and the 200-day SMA could see the shares take flight to the January swing low at $74.34. The airline has a market value of $13.18 billion.

For a look at today’s earnings schedule, check out our earnings calendar.

United Airlines Warns Of Rising Cancellations

United Airlines Holdings Inc. (UAL) reduced guidance on Thursday, noting a deceleration in bookings and increase in cancellations as a result of the surging COVID-19 pandemic. Major airline carriers had booked stronger-than expected traffic over the summer months, as the virus faded from the front pages in most parts of the world. Several CEOs upwardly revised dismal forecasts during that period, allowing complacency to overcome common sense.

Business Travel Will ‘Go Away’

Former Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Bill Gates put a damper on Boeing Co. (BA) and the airline sector on Wednesday, declaring that 50% of business travel will ‘go away permanently’ because of technology like the virtual meeting software offered by Zoom Video Communications Inc. (ZM). He also predicted 30% of people will be working from home in the long-term, allowing corporations to become leaner and meaner, with fewer-owned properties and multiyear leases.

United Airlines now expects fourth quarter capacity to drop ‘at least’ 55% compared to same quarter in 2019. It also guided for a 67% reduction in revenue, below prior forecasts. The company will also burn cash at a faster rate, eating up approximately $15 million to $20 million, plus $10 million of average debt principal and severance payments per day. None of these forecasts bode well for Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) or American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL).

Wall Street And Technical Outlook

Wall Street consensus has deteriorated in recent months, now standing at a neutral ‘Hold’ rating based upon 5 ‘Buy’, 7 ‘Hold’, and 2 ‘Sell’ recommendations. Price targets currently range from a low of $32 to a Street-high $54 while the stock is set to open Thursday’s U.S. session right at the median $41 target. Capacity news and vaccine updates should drive price action into 2021 with this mid-range placement, suggesting limited upside.

The stock posted an all-time high at 97.85 in 2018 and entered a narrow consolidation that broke to the downside in February 2020, also breaking multiple support levels going back to 2013. The 2016 low in the upper 30s is now getting tested while continued upside will run into a buzz saw of resistance in the 50s, where the 2017 low and 200-week moving averages are narrow-aligned. On the downside, bears will gain control of the tape if a selloff pieces rising 2020 lows near 30.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

United Airlines Flies Sideways After Quarterly Earnings Crash

United Airlines Holdings, Inc. (UAL) traded flat in the extended-hours session Wednesday after the Chicago-based carrier swung to a net loss of $1.8 billion in the third quarter (Q3) as the coronavirus pandemic continued to pummel air travel demand.

The airline reported adjusted earnings of -$8.16 per share, a wider loss than the -$7.53 figure Wall Street had expected. This compares to earnings per share (EPS) of $4.07 a share in the year-ago quarter. Revenue of $2.49 billion came in roughly in-line with analysts’ expectations of $2.50 billion. However, the metric fell nearly 80% from the September 2019 quarter as the airlines slashed capacity.

Management anticipates the challenging conditions to continue over the short-term but remains more optimistic about the longer-term future. “Even though the negative impact of COVID-19 will persist in the near term, we are now focused on positioning the airline for a strong recovery that will allow United to bring our furloughed employees back to work and emerge as the global leader in aviation,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a statement accompanying the quarterly results, per Business Insider.

Through Wednesday’s close, United Airlines stock has a market capitalization of $10.36 billion and trades nearly 70% lower on the year. Since mid-July, price performance has improved, with the shares gaining 12%.

Improving Efficiency

The company said it reduced its daily cash burn and principal debt payments during the quarter to $25 million a day, down from an average of $40 million per day in the previous quarter. Meanwhile, total operating costs plummeted by nearly 60% compared to the third quarter of 2019. United also said it had commenced furloughing up to 13,000 employees after federal payroll support expired at the end of last month.

Wall Street View

JPMorgan analyst Jamie Baker upgraded United Airlines to ‘Overweight’ from ‘Neutral’ and lifted his price target to $52 from $44. Baker argues the company “can endure the current downturn with sufficient liquidity,” despite the recent volatility in the airline sector.

Most other analysts on Wall Street remain mostly bullish on the stock. It receives 7 ‘Buy’ ratings, 1 ‘Overweight’ rating, and 12 ‘Hold’ ratings. Just one analyst currently recommends selling. Price targets range between $60 and $32, with the average consensus 12-month target sitting at $43.41. This implies an upside of 22% from yesterday’s $35.61 close.

Technical Outlook and Trading Tactics

United shares have remained in a narrow eight-point range since late June, with neither the bulls nor bears able to take control of the price action. Instead of trying to guess which way price will break out, let the market determine direction. If the stock breaks to the upside, look for a retest of the June swing high at $48.95. Alternatively, if the shares break below the trading range, anticipate a fall back down to crucial support around the $22.50 level.

United Airlines Forecasts Bigger Q3 Revenue Loss As COVID-19 Slowdown to Last Longer; Target Price $25 in Worst Case

United Airlines Holdings, one of the largest airlines in the world, forecasts that its passenger revenue in the third quarter of 2020 will plunge nearly 85%, more than a previous forecast of 83% decline as COVID-19 slowdown bites air travel demand and said it would continue to cancel flights until it sees signs of a recovery, sending its stock down over 2% on Wednesday.

The third-largest airline in the U.S. said they do not currently expect the recovery from COVID-19 to follow a linear path and the company’s actual flown capacity for the third quarter of 2020 is now expected to decrease about 70% year-over-year, as compared to the previous forecast of a decrease of 65%.

United Airlines’ shares fell over 2% to $36.32 on Wednesday; the stock is down about 60% so far this year.

United Airlines stock forecast

Thirteen equity analysts forecast the average price in 12 months at $39.43 with a high forecast of $61.00 and a low forecast of $25.00. The average price target represents a 7.97% increase from the last price of $36.52. From those 13 analysts, five rated “Buy”, seven rated “Hold” and one rated “Sell”, according to Tipranks.

Morgan Stanley gave a target price of $37 with a high of $79 under a bull-case scenario and $21 under the worst-case scenario. United Airlines’ stock price forecast was raised by JP Morgan to $44 from $43.

Other equity analysts also recently updated their stock outlook. In June, Seaport Global Securities initiates coverage with “Buy” rating and $56 target price, Citigroup raised price target to $47 from $38 and BofA Global Research upped their price objective to $45 from $30.

However, we think it is good to hold for now as 100-day Moving Average and 100-200-day MACD Oscillator signal a mild selling opportunity.

Analyst views

“We believe United Airlines (UAL) has the most challenged network of any airline in our coverage based on our path for a COVID recovery and a levered balance sheet, which could limit rebound opportunities,” said Ravi Shanker, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“In addition, UAL’s new CEO Scott Kirby (former COO) is very well regarded by investors but investors may wait to see evidence that UAL is indeed focused on cost improvement rather than aggressive growth (at the cost of PRASM) before giving the stock credit,” Shanker added.

Check out FX Empire’s earnings calendar