UPDATE 2-Continental Air posts larger-than-expected loss

* Q1 loss 98 cents/share, excluding items

* Revenue rises 7 percent to $3.17 bln

* Higher fuel, snowstorms push expenses up 6.7 percent
(Recasts; Adds estimates, quotes from chief executive, details
about fuel and impact of snowstorms)

NEW YORK, April 22 (BestGrowthStock) – Severe winter weather and
higher fuel costs pinched Continental Airlines Inc’s (CAL.N: )
first-quarter results on Thursday and the company posted a
larger-than-expected loss despite a jump in revenue.

The Houston-based airline said its loss widened to $146
million, or $1.05 per share, from $136 million, or $1.10 per
share, a year earlier, when there were fewer outstanding
shares.

The No. 4 U.S. airline by traffic saw a loss of 98 cents
per share, excluding $10 million of severance and
aircraft-related special charges.

Analysts, on average, had expected the company to report a
loss of 86 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“I’m disappointed with our first-quarter results, which
were impacted by the weak economy and the challenges we
experienced with weather related closures of our Newark Liberty
hub,” Continental Chief Executive Jeff Smisek said in a
statement.

Revenue rose 7 percent to $3.17 billion, helped by a
greater demand for travel and benefits from its shift to the
Star Alliance network.

Star Alliance is headed by UAL Corp’s (UAUA.O: ) United
Airlines, who is reportedly in merger talks with both
Continental and fellow alliance partner US Airways (LCC.N: ).
None of the airlines has publicly confirmed the discussions.

Average fares rose 5.7 percent in the quarter. Unit revenue
rose 5.4 percent. Expenses rose 6.7 percent to $3.22 billion.

Heavy snowstorms that hit the East Coast of the United
States forced the airline to shut down operations at its Newark
Liberty International Airport hub twice in February. This cut
first-quarter consolidated revenue by about $25 million.

Higher fuel costs also helped push Continental’s cost per
available seat mile 7.4 percent higher in the quarter. The
average price per gallon of fuel increased about 17 percent.

Continental’s shares closed at $21.46 on Wednesday.

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(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and
Maureen Bavdek)

UPDATE 2-Continental Air posts larger-than-expected loss