United Airlines' Parent Stock Price Target Raised On Upbeat March Traffic Data

By Tomi Kilgore Markets MarketWatch Pulse

United Airlines parent United Continental Holdings Inc.'s stock price target was raised at Cowen & Co., which cited upbeat traffic data, but made no mention of the incident over the weekend in which a passenger was dragged off a plane. The air carrier reported late Monday March traffic that rose 3%, while load factor declined slightly. Analyst Helane Becker raised her first-quarter earnings-per-share estimate to 42 cents from 24 cents, compared with the FactSet consensus of 35 cents. Becker said that while capacity increased more than expected, it was because of a better completion factor. "We expect the company to guide to sequential improvement in unit revenue from 1Q17 to 2Q17," Becker wrote in a note to clients. The stock, which slumped 2.4% in premarket trade, has lost 1.9% year to date through Monday, while the NYSE Arca Airline Index has eased 0.2% and the S&P 500 has gained 5.3%.

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