Sunday, April 21, 2013

Will Airline Stocks Fly High?

Have you benn on a plane flight recently? I've been on several plane flights over the last year and one thing I have noticed is that the plane is always full. Always! Not one extra seat available. And this is on a few different airlines, Delta (DAL), KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (KLMR), and JetBlue (JBLU). I remember years ago, taking flights on PSA with only eight people on the plane. There were almost as many airline staff workers (pilots and flight attendants) as there were passengers.

Now airlines have their act together, and are able to fill every seat. Any empty seat is less revenue, and if they can fill those seats, even at very discounted prices, it's additional revenue. When you consider all the flights of an airline in a day, and multiply those flights times 365 days, the revenue can add up.

With the merger of the American Airlines holding company, AMR (AAMRQ) and US Airways (LCC), it will mean less competition. And of course with crude oil dropping in price to $88 per barrel from over $105 a barrel a year ago, fuel costs for the airlines have been kept in check.

So what's an investor to do who is looking for a high flyer? According to the free list of airline stocks at, there are over 25 airlines to choose from, with a half dozen paying dividends.

Let's take a look at Alaska Air Group (ALK), which provides flights to the western United States, Canada, and Mexico. The stock trades at 13.7 times trailing earnings and 9.5 times forward earnings. Revenues for the latest quarter at year end were up 8.4%, however earnings dropped 31.3%. The company's next earnings announcement is scheduled for April 25. The company carries over a billion dollars in debt, but it does have $1.25 billion in cash.

The Latin American airline company, Copa Holdings SA (CPA), is doing well. Based out of Panama City, Panama, it flies to 64 destinations in 29 countries in North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The stock has a trailing price-to-earnings ratio of 16.4 and a forward PE of 10.9. Revenues were up by a strong 19.4%, but earnings dropped for the latest quarter by 17%. Next announcement is May 6. This is one of the few companies that pays a dividend with a Certificate of Deposit beating yield of 1.9%.

Southwest Airlines (LUV) is another dividend payer, with a small yield of 0.3%. The stock trades at 23.8 times current earnings and 11.1 times forward earnings. Next earnings announcement is April 25.

To see a complete list of all the major and regional airline stocks, which can be downloaded, sorted, and updated, go to

Disclosure: Author owns JBLU.


No comments: