Why SkyWest Shares Took Off

Is this meaningful? Or just another movement?

Jeremy Bowman
Jeremy Bowman
Sep 14, 2012 at 12:00AM

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 regional airline SkyWest (Nasdaq: SKYW) jumped as much as 15%, and finished with a 5.8% gain, after the company announced a share buyback program and received an upgrade.

So what: SkyWest, which has struggled of late, with shares down more than 50% from five years ago, said that its buyback plan would allow for up to 6.5 million shares to be repurchased. With about 51.3 million shares outstanding, the repurchase plan represents 13% of shares, and an ambitious attempt to return capital to shareholders, sending a message that management thinks shares are undervalued.

Raymond James also upgraded the airline from "outperform" to a "strong buy," as SkyWest also announced a new contract with American Airlines to carry out short-haul flights. Raymond James is also a partner in the buyback program.

Now what: Buybacks are generally only effective when a company has no better way to spend its money and its shares are undervalued. Considering SkyWest actually posted a small loss over the past 12 months, it seems like it would be better off reinvesting in its core operations instead of spending just to pander to shareholders. This likely explains why the stock slipped after jumping out of the gate. I’d wait to see consistent profits, rather than buyback shenanigans, before investing.

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