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

By Tomi KilgoreMarketsMarketWatch 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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