2 Companies With Rising Stock Prices After Earnings Are Released

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United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE:UAL) reported its results for the fourth quarter. Loss narrowed to $138 million (loss of 42 cents per diluted share) from $325 million (loss of $1.70 per share) in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue rose 5.9% to $8.93 billion from the year earlier quarter. UAL reported adjusted net income of 30 cents a share. By this measure, it beat the mean analyst estimate of 14 cents per share. Analysts were expecting revenue of $8.94 billion.

“We made significant progress in 2011 building the world’s leading airline, while running a clean, safe and reliable operation,” said Jeff Smisek, UAL’s president and chief executive officer. “I am proud of the results we achieved by working together at the new United, and I look forward to seeing my co-workers share in our success when we distribute more than a quarter billion dollars of profit sharing on Valentine’s Day.”

Competitors to Watch: Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL), US Airways Group, Inc. (NYSE:LCC), AMR Corporation (NYSE:AMR), Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK), JetBlue Airways Corp. (NASDAQ:JBLU), Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV), SkyWest, Inc. (NASDAQ:SKYW), Republic Airways Hldgs. Inc. (NASDAQ:RJET), Pinnacle Airlines Corp. (NASDAQ:PNCL), and Gulfstream Intl. Group, Inc. (GIGIQ).

Airgas Inc. (NYSE:ARG) reported its results for the third quarter. Net income for the industrial equipment wholesale company rose to $72.3 million (93 cents per share) vs. $55.8 million (65 cents per share) in the same quarter a year earlier. This marks a rise of 29.5% from the year earlier quarter. Revenue rose 11.5% to $1.15 billion from the year earlier quarter. ARG reported adjusted net income of 97 cents per share. By that measure, the company fell in line with the mean estimate of 97 cents per share. Analysts were expecting revenue of $1.14 billion.

“We continue to see evidence of steady economic growth in U.S. manufacturing, as well as in our petrochemical and energy customers,” said Airgas Chief Executive Officer Peter McCausland. “Strong growth in welding and automation equipment revenue is outpacing the remainder of our hardgoods portfolio, which is an encouraging indicator of future activity in our industrial customer base.”
“Adjusted operating margin of 11.7% for the third quarter included 110 basis points of impact from SAP implementation costs and depreciation expense. Prior year adjusted operating margin of 12.2% included only 30 basis points of impact from SAP implementation costs and depreciation expense. Distribution segment operating margin, which does not include an allocation of SAP implementation costs, was 12.7% for the third quarter, a 30 basis point improvement over the prior year. “Our sharp operating focus drove sequential expansion in our Distribution segment gross and operating margins,” McCausland said. “Our return on capital increased by 100 basis points over last year to 12.3% as we continue to leverage our national footprint and industry-leading platform on growing sales volumes.”

Competitors to Watch: Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD), Praxair, Inc. (NYSE:PX), and Rentech, Inc. (AMEX:RTK).

To contact the reporter on this story: Derek Hoffman at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com

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