Airline stocks started the day on a broadly lower note with United Continental (UAL 66.23, -0.32) leading the retreat, but the group has rebounded from initial losses.
The entire industry group has faced selling pressure this week as participants adjusted their earnings expectations for air carriers after Winter Storm Stella made its way through the Northeast.
While the storm did not turn out to be as crippling as first expected, it still caused the cancellation of nearly 9,000 flights between Monday and Wednesday.
Airline stocks have underperformed since Monday, leaving United Continental down almost 10.0% for the week. The stock has returned to levels from mid-November after hovering near its record high ($76.80) that was set in December.
Also of note, United Continental adjusted its guidance for the fiscal year to account for more fully maximizing fleet utilization. The airline raised its capacity growth expectations to 2.5%-3.5% from 1.0%-2.0%. The company expects that costs per available seat mile will grow between 5.6% and 7.2%, down from previous guidance for growth between 6.6% and 8.2%. United Continental expects that first quarter passenger revenue per available seat mile will be between -1.0% and +1.0%.
After starting the session with a 2.2% loss, United Continental has narrowed its decline to 0.5% as dip buyers pile into the name that has seen the most aggressive selling in the past few days. Other airlines are mixed after a lower start with Southwest Air (LUV 53.44, +0.56) showing relative strength. The stock has climbed 1.1%, erasing the bulk of yesterday's decline.