United Airlines beat fourth quarter earnings estimates, but income taxes dragged down profits

On Tuesday, United Airlines reported fourth-quarter 2016 profits of $397 million at $1.78 per share. According to AP, this beat Wall Street estimates of $1.65 per share.

In addition, the airline generated $9.1 billion in total revenue during the December quarter — up 0.2% from the same period in 2015.

For the year, United registered $2.3 billion in profit against $36.6 billion in total revenue. In addition, the airline returned $628 million to employees in the form of profit sharing.

“Our fourth quarter financial and operating performance capped an outstanding year for United Airlines,” United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, said in a statement. “In 2016, we put into action our plan to become the best airline in the world, and last year’s results demonstrate we are on our way to achieving that ambition.”

Even though the Chicago-based airline beat estimates, fourth-quarter profits tumbled from $823 million to $397 million — down 51.8%.

The vast majority of this can be attributed to the income tax United paid during the quarter which totaled $487 million — up from $82 million during the same period in 2015. For the year, United profits fell to $2.3 billion from $7.3 billion in 2015. Again, much of this fall can be blamed on income taxes with the airline paying $1.6 billion during 2016 as opposed to a $3.1 billion tax benefit in 2015.

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