Continental Posts Second Quarter Earnings Above Wall Street Estimates

HOUSTON (AP) -- Continental Airlines Inc. on Wednesday posted a second-quarter profit that beat Wall Street expectations, as the carrier's passenger traffic grew and it trimmed wages and other costs to overcome higher fuel prices.

Net income totaled $100 million (euro83.58 million), or $1.26 per share, compared with a loss of $28 million (euro23.4 million), or 43 cents per share, a year ago. Excluding a gain from the contribution of ExpressJet Holdings Inc. shares to its pension plan, Continental said its adjusted income was $53 million, or 69 cents per share, in the latest quarter.

The company's adjusted profit was ahead of the average estimate of 20 cents per share from analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

Quarterly revenue totaled $2.86 billion (euro2.39 billion), a gain of 12 percent from $2.55 billion (euro2.13 billion) a year earlier and above the analysts' consensus estimate of $2.77 billion (euro2.32 billion).

Continental said its traffic grew 7.2 percent to 18.05 billion revenue passenger miles last quarter. Capacity increased 4.2 percent, while overall occupancy, or load factor, advanced to 80.4 percent from 78.1 percent.

Fuel costs, which have been blamed for financial troubles throughout the airline industry, swelled 45 percent to $1.05 billion (euro880 million), the company said.

Continental shares rose 55 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $16.25 in premarket activity on the New York Stock Exchange.