United Continental Holdings on Thursday said its ailing CEO will return from medical leave by the end of the first quarter or sooner, as it reported fourth-quarter profit below analysts’ expectations.
Shares of United (UAL) were up about 1% after rising more than 3% earlier, part of a broader rebound in airline shares Thursday.
CEO Oscar Munoz, who suffered a heart attack in October, said on a conference call he was feeling great after a heart transplant this month. United previously said he would return by the beginning of the second quarter.
The news overshadowed United’s warning that it expects unit revenue to keep sinking as sharply lower oil prices hurt sales to energy clients around the airline’s Houston hub.
United, the second-largest U.S. airline by capacity behind American Airlines (AAL), doubled its adjusted profit to $934 million, or $2.54 per diluted share. Analysts on average expected United to earn about $959 million, or $2.58 per diluted share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.