The hurricanes have claimed another victim.
JetBlue Airways (Nasdaq: JBLU ) said this morning that while the company still expects to report a "solidly profitable third quarter," the airline now anticipates quarterly earnings to come in "significantly lower" than previously forecast. In addition to the two hurricanes that have already disrupted business in Florida, the company cited higher than expected fuel prices and anticipation of a possible third hurricane for the downbeat outlook.
In August, JetBlue saw traffic rise a healthy 31%, clocking in 1.53 billion revenue passenger miles. However, a slightly faster capacity increase of 34.3% brought the load factor down slightly to 89.3%. Similar to what AirTran (NYSE: AAI ) reported yesterday, the impact of Hurricane Charley measured "numerous flight delays" on top of 50 cancellations.
September looks worse, as Hurricane Frances has caused JetBlue 262 additional cancelled flights, and the possibility of a third hurricane may slow down travel further.
But here's the thing: JetBlue has generally been a Fool favorite because it's one of the few airlines to consistently pump out profits alongside Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV ) . In fact, JetBlue was even recently a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Here's the question you should be asking yourself:
Can things really get much worse?
This scenario isn't all that different from what I wrote regarding Ameristar Casinos (Nasdaq: ASCA ) last month (see Sizing Up Ameristar and Ameristar: Time to Buy). In that case, the market had just beaten down a stock I already thought was cheap for a company of its caliber.
With JetBlue, the bad news is out, the stock is down, and we like the company. Add it all up, and you have a recipe for at least a consideration for a buy. And if you haven't yet, the best place to start is with the four-part series on JetBlue that Whitney Tilson wrote last summer:
- The Amazing JetBlue
- JetBlue's Beautiful Cost Structure
- JetBlue's Customer Experience
- JetBlue's Friendly Skies
Fool contributor Jeff Hwang owns shares of Ameristar Casinos.