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

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent recommendations and price targets for United Continental Holdings and Ryanair Holdings PLC, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
United Continental Holdings 0 8 8 0 2.50
Ryanair Holdings PLC 2 2 8 0 2.50

United Continental Holdings presently has a consensus price target of $85.77, indicating a potential upside of 37.38%. Ryanair Holdings PLC has a consensus price target of $96.00, indicating a potential downside of 16.43%. Given United Continental Holdings’ higher possible upside, equities research analysts plainly believe United Continental Holdings is more favorable than Ryanair Holdings PLC.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

97.7% of United Continental Holdings shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 40.1% of Ryanair Holdings PLC shares are owned by institutional investors. 0.3% of United Continental Holdings shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, hedge funds and large money managers believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.


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

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
United Continental Holdings 6.09% 29.46% 6.17%
Ryanair Holdings PLC 21.44% 34.02% 13.43%

Risk & Volatility

United Continental Holdings has a beta of 1.07, suggesting that its share price is 7% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Ryanair Holdings PLC has a beta of 0.61, suggesting that its share price is 39% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Valuation & Earnings

This table compares United Continental Holdings and Ryanair Holdings PLC’s gross revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
United Continental Holdings $37.38 billion 0.51 $6.37 billion $7.23 8.63
Ryanair Holdings PLC $8.05 billion N/A $2.56 billion $6.48 17.73

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


United Continental Holdings beats Ryanair Holdings PLC on 7 of the 11 factors compared between the two stocks.

United Continental Holdings Company Profile

United Continental Holdings, Inc. (UAL) is a holding company and its principal subsidiary is United Air Lines, Inc. (United). The Company transports people and cargo through its mainline operations. It has global air rights in North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. The Company, through United and its regional carriers, operates flights from its hubs at Newark Liberty International Airport (Newark Liberty), Chicago O’Hare International Airport (Chicago O’Hare), Denver International Airport (Denver), George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Houston Bush), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), A.B. Won Pat International Airport (Guam), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Washington Dulles International Airport (Washington Dulles). It has contractual relationships with regional carriers to provide regional jet and turboprop service branded as United Express. These regional operations are an extension of the Company’s mainline network.

Ryanair Holdings PLC Company Profile

Ryanair Holdings plc (Ryanair Holdings) is a holding company for Ryanair Limited (Ryanair). Ryanair operates an ultra-low fare, scheduled-passenger airline serving short-haul, point-to-point routes between Ireland, the United Kingdom, Continental Europe, Morocco and Israel. Ryanair provides various ancillary services and engages in other activities connected with its core air passenger service, including non-flight scheduled services, Internet-related services, and the in-flight sale of beverages, food and merchandise. Ryanair markets accommodation services and travel insurance through its Website. It provides hotel and accommodation services. Ryanair provides its own aircraft and passenger handling and ticketing services at Dublin Airport. As of June 30, 2016, Ryanair had a principal fleet of over 350 Boeing 737-800 aircraft and offered over 2,000 scheduled short-haul flights per day serving approximately 200 airports throughout Europe.

Receive News & Ratings for United Continental Holdings Inc. Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for United Continental Holdings Inc. and related companies with Analyst Ratings Network's FREE daily email newsletter.