Head-To-Head Comparison: Ryanair (RYAAY) versus United Continental (UAL)

Ryanair (NASDAQ:RYAAY) and United Continental (NASDAQ:UAL) are both large-cap transportation companies, but which is the superior business? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their risk, institutional ownership, dividends, valuation, earnings, profitability and analyst recommendations.


This table compares Ryanair and United Continental’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Ryanair 14.65% 25.18% 9.99%
United Continental 5.15% 27.73% 5.67%

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Ryanair and United Continental’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Ryanair $8.37 billion 2.19 $1.70 billion $7.05 11.08
United Continental $41.30 billion 0.55 $2.13 billion $9.13 9.26

United Continental has higher revenue and earnings than Ryanair. United Continental is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Ryanair, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current ratings for Ryanair and United Continental, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Ryanair 2 5 5 0 2.25
United Continental 1 5 11 0 2.59

Ryanair presently has a consensus price target of $79.00, suggesting a potential upside of 1.15%. United Continental has a consensus price target of $101.13, suggesting a potential upside of 19.65%. Given United Continental’s stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts plainly believe United Continental is more favorable than Ryanair.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

43.7% of Ryanair shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 98.1% of United Continental shares are held by institutional investors. 0.3% of United Continental shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, large money managers and endowments believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Risk and Volatility

Ryanair has a beta of 0.73, meaning that its share price is 27% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, United Continental has a beta of 0.96, meaning that its share price is 4% less volatile than the S&P 500.


United Continental beats Ryanair on 10 of the 14 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Ryanair

Ryanair Holdings plc, together with its subsidiaries, provides scheduled-passenger airline services in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Other European countries. The company is also involved in the provision of various ancillary services, such as non-flight scheduled services and Internet-related services; in-flight sale of beverages, food, and merchandise; and marketing accommodation services, holidays, car hire, and travel insurance through its Website. In addition, it sells bus and rail tickets onboard its aircraft and through its Website, as well as gift vouchers through its Website; and markets car parking, attractions, and activities through its Website. As of June 30, 2018, the company operated a fleet of 440 Boeing 737 aircraft; and offered approximately 2,000 scheduled short-haul flights per day serving approximately 200 airports in Europe. Ryanair Holdings plc was founded in 1985 and is headquartered in Swords, Ireland.

About United Continental

United Continental Holdings, Inc., through its subsidiaries, provides air transportation services in North America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. It transports people and cargo through its mainline and regional operations. As of December 31, 2018, the company operated a fleet of 1,329 aircraft. It also sells fuel; and offers catering, ground handling, and maintenance services for third parties. The company was formerly known as UAL Corporation and changed its name to United Continental Holdings, Inc. in October 2010. United Continental Holdings, Inc. was founded in 1934 and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois.

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