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United Airlines Q4 profit climbs despite Boeing 737 MAX crisis

United Airlines Holdings Inc. reported better-than-expected profit for the fourth quarter of 2019 despite flight cancellations due to the continued grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX fleet.

The company's adjusted EPS for the fourth quarter was $2.67, up year over year from $2.40. The S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate for the quarter was $2.64.

Adjusted net income totaled $676 million, a gain from $656 million in the prior-year period.

The airline's GAAP net income rose 39% from the prior-year quarter to $641 million, or $2.53 per share, from $461 million, or $1.69 per share.

Fourth-quarter operating revenue rose to $10.89 billion from $10.49 billion.

For the full year, the company's adjusted EPS totaled $12.05, an increase from $9.11 in 2018. Adjusted net income was $3.13 billion, a gain from $2.52 billion in the prior year.

Net income on a GAAP basis rose 41.8%, to $3.01 billion, or $11.58 per share, in 2019 from $2.12 billion, or $7.67 per share, in the prior year.

Full-year operating revenue rose on an annual basis to $43.26 billion from $41.30 billion.

United said it will provide its outlook for the first quarter of 2020 and for the full year during its earnings call Jan. 22.

The airline did not disclose the impact of the 737 MAX crisis in its earnings report. The company had pulled the troubled aircraft from its flight schedules through June 4.

Boeing Co. told customers and suppliers Jan. 21 that the 737 MAX aircraft's return to service may not start until the middle of 2020.