United jumps after crushing earnings

United Continental rose more than 4.5% overnight after the airline topped Wall Street earnings expectations on Tuesday afternoon.

For the second quarter of 2018, United said it earned an adjusted $3.23 per share, easily beating the $3.06 that analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting. Total operating revenue came in at $10.78 billion, topping estimates of $10.72 billion.

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United also boosted its profit outlook for the year — something its rivals have been cutting in recent reports. The company says adjusted profit will be as much as $8.75 a share, 25 cents higher than previously forecast. Both American and Delta recently cut their profit projections, citing rising fuel costs.

"We delivered great financial results and strong operational performance in the second quarter despite the significant headwind of higher fuel prices," Oscar Munoz, the airline's chief executive, said in a press release.

United also said it improved overall passenger revenue per available seat mile — a closely watched airline metric, also known as PRASM — by 3% over the same quarter in 2017.

"We believe that we are starting to see an inflection point for customer perception of United (especially relative to Delta),” UBS analyst Darryl Genovesi said in a note ahead of the earnings report, as reported by Bloomberg.

Wall Street analysts polled by Bloomberg have an average target price of $85 — 12% above where shares were set to open Wednesday morning.

United shares have risen 8.8% this year, outpacing the benchmark S&P 500's 4% gain.

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