One day they read, "Oil Soars, Airlines Dive," and the next day, "Airlines Soar, Oil Dives." The headlines have become so predictably sensational and paradoxical. This Tuesday started with a similar bang -- crude oil crashing under $64 a barrel. The news propelled shares of major airliners such as Southwest
In fact, the news appeared wardsback to me. With jet fuel rocketing to a record high and concerns of lower refining capacity in the Gulf Coast region, why were the major airlines thrusting higher? Digging a bit deeper, I found the answer: Airliners reported very strong traffic numbers for September, hinting that revenues would be high enough to offset high fuel costs. Talk about a monkey wrench. Just when you think you've got it figured out, you realize you never really do.
It brought me to the conclusion that investing can be a lot like assembling a toy for your child on Christmas morning. With your tools and instructions in hand, the parts arranged, half a day later your kid keeps nagging, "Daddy, isn't it done yet?" and suddenly it dawns on you -- that leftover panel was more critical than you had anticipated.
With oil prices soaring, jet fuel rocketing, increased terrorism and natural disasters, wars, and airfare hikes, the one factor forgotten was the resiliency of travelers. Although consumer spending and confidence appears to be lower, the travel industry has so far remained healthy. Could it actually be that more individuals are willing to fly mid- to long-range distances, as no doubt airfare could be cheaper than driving that same distance in a gas-guzzling SUV? Or maybe travelers are just pinching pennies in other places. Whatever the case, air travel has remained strong despite all the increased negativity.
The one industry that may get a much-needed boost from this could be the online travel industry. Although I expect Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Priceline.com
In the future, the headlines may just read "Oil Dives, Airliners Soars, Travel Lives."
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Fool contributor M.D. Mitchell is down the st reet at the local junkyard looking for some good trash. He believes toy manufacturers should be mandated to pre-assemble toys. He owns TSG, but no stocks in any other company mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.