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 airline Virgin America (NASDAQ:VA) jumped as much as 10% in early trading on Wednesday. As of 2:45 p.m. EST, the stock had settled back to a 4.3% boost on double the usual trading volume.
So what: Virgin America released earnings results for its fourth quarter, reporting adjusted earnings per share of $1.16, well ahead of the $0.80 analysts were projecting. Revenue also came in ahead of expectations. The company said the sharp drop in oil prices -- which means cheaper jet fuel -- was a major contributor to its quarterly results.
Now what: Virgin America also said that this marked the ninth consecutive quarter in which its net income grew versus the year-ago period. However, there was a caveat: The result is based on adjusted income, excluding things management considers "one-time" items. It's a good idea to look at both the adjusted and generally accepted accounting principles earnings for better context on the company's earnings growth.
Management expects the current oil price environment to benefit its first-quarter 2015 results as well. Still, even after today's jump, the stock is still down about 17% in 2015 after peaking in January when it had gained 45% from Virgin America's November IPO.
Is Virgin America a buy today? Honestly, it's hard to say. Cheap oil is good for airlines, but the industry has been historically a terrible investment. Here's what Warren Buffett has said about the entire sector: "Here a durable competitive advantage has proven elusive ever since the days of the Wright Brothers. Indeed, if a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down."
Unless you have special knowledge of the industry that gives you an advantage, there are probably better places to invest.
Jason Hall has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.