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Before the Call: Is JetBlue a Blue Traveler?

With the dark days of winter giving way to the dog days of summer, JetBlue (Nasdaq: JBLU  ) should have it easy. Ice storms don't come around in July. (Unless you live on Pluto.) Will that mean the once-cuddly carrier's shares are taxiing for takeoff? We'll know more when JetBlue reports earnings tomorrow.

But in these few hours before we find out if JetBlue is a blue traveler, let's take a moment to review what investors think about it as a long-term investment. Our tool in this endeavor: Motley Fool CAPS, where we poll more than 60,000 players for their views on well over 4,000 firms, JetBlue among them. Here's what Fools have to say about the company.

Up or down?
More than 750 raters have weighed in on JetBlue, and few are as impressed with the stock as Fool co-founder David Gardner, who singled it out three years ago in Stock Advisor.

Underperformance has followed, a rarity for David, whose picks are pounding the market by more than 2 to 1 on average. Yet that record won't sway the CAPS crowd. Only 84% of our typically buoyant participants believe JetBlue will outperform. And only 82% of All-Stars -- our very best CAPS players -- see higher altitudes ahead.

The result? A two-star rating for JetBlue, a distinction it shares with a handful of its peers in the regional airline business:

Regional Airlines Group

CAPS rating

AirTran Holdings (NYSE:AAI)




Ryanair Holdings (NASDAQ:RYAAY)


SkyWest Inc. (NASDAQ:SKYW)


Source: Motley Fool CAPS

Wall Street vs. Main Street
The Street is even less impressed with JetBlue, with bears and bulls split 4 to 3 over the airline's prospects. Bears have fared better, though, with the class of the white shoe crowd being -- get this -- Wired magazine. Since the digerati removed JetBlue from its annual list of the "40 most innovative," the stock has slid 3 percentage points, producing a 11-point gain for Wired's index.

Bull pitch
The Professor Positives among JetBlue raters say that the airline has been a victim of "bad PR" and that former CEO David Neeleman's leadership during the winter trauma at Kennedy Airport "is invaluable." Or at least more valuable than the $11.33 each JetBlue share was fetching as of Friday's close.

Bear pitch
Meanwhile, the Sally Sourpusses say that JetBlue faces an aging fleet and that "the costs to keep the birds flying will be greater." They also suggest that there's risk in adding Embraer (NYSE: ERJ  ) jets to the fleet, which "goes against the Southwest (NYSE: LUV  ) model of standardization" and, in turn, increases operating expenses.

Fool on ... and on, and on, and on
Want more? To discover the Fools behind the words, to examine their records, and to find further Foolish coverage of JetBlue, just click here.

JetBlue and Embraer are Stock Advisor newsletter recommendations To see what other companies David and Tom Gardner have recommended to investors since 2002, click here for a 30-day free trial.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers, who is ranked 2,298 out of more than 60,000 participants in CAPS, owned shares of Southwest at the time of publication. Find Tim's portfolio here and his latest blog commentary here. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy owns a crop duster and a Boeing DC-3 that it flies to Florida for weekend getaways.

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