May 24, 2012
Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of national airline US Airways (NYSE: LCC ) soared as much as 11% this morning following a third round of upgrades for the entire airline sector in just a matter of a few days.
So what: The airline sector is moving across the board following price target boosts from JPMorgan Chase airline analyst Jamie Baker. Specifically, Baker cited that fuel costs have fallen by $0.40 per gallon since February, a $5.5 billion industry savings, yet consensus earnings estimates haven't moved higher. He responded by boosting US Airways' price target the most, from $14.50 to $17, but also raised the price targets on Alaska Air (NYSE: ALK ) , Southwest (NYSE: LUV ) , JetBlue (Nasdaq: JBLU ) , and United Continental Holdings (NYSE: UAL ) by about 5% to 7% for each airline.
Now what: Today's round of upgrades comes just days after analysts at Dahlman Rose and Bank of America Merrill Lynch also raised their estimates. But I have to ask: Does this really change anything? Fuel prices fluctuate all the time and the airlines seem to have a hard enough time turning a profit even when conditions are in their favor. Unlike most airlines, US Airways doesn't hedge its fuel costs, so it's my take that this is why it had the biggest price hike from Baker. Still, the airline industry is wrought with bankruptcies and debt-riddled companies. Despite the airline falling under the bankruptcy guillotine, I still see far too much worrisome debt on US Airways' balance sheet for my liking and would recommend you use today as a possible opportunity to locate your nearest exit and depart this stock.
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