Oil is tanking behind Europe, commodity inventories are up, and refineries are running at very high historic levels. And guess what, airplanes are full, fares are up, carriers are passing on endless costs to customers, and capacity remains high. As long as the U.S. does not follow Europe into a meltdown it should be a perfect storm for the U.S. airline sector. So why are airline stocks getting hit with the broad market so much?
Oh, and someone some day will probably buy AMR or parts of it out of bankruptcy for a song. Perhaps it is simply just another 100-point-plus drop in the DJIA or another double-digit drop in the S&P 500 Index. The major airline carriers are trading today:
United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL) is down 1% at $21.61 against a 52-week range of $15.51 to $26.50; UAL was above $24.00 just one week ago.
Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL) is down 0.8% at $10.45 with a 52-week range of $6.41 to $11.58; Delta is down almost 10% in less than two weeks.
US Airways Group, Inc. (NYSE: LCC) is down only 0.4% at $10.58 against a 52-week range of $3.96 to $11.73; US Air is down about 10% in less than two weeks.
Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) is performing the worst of the lot because most investors believe that are actively hedging and that means they won’t benefit as much from lower oil prices. Southwest’s share price is down 1.2% at $8.18 against a 52-week range of $7.15 to $12.04.
JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ: JBLU) is an exception to the rule today. Its shares are up 3% at $4.40 against a 52-week range of $3.40 to $6.32 in part on follow-on buying after a director of the company bought more than $200,000 worth of stock.
The question that has to be asked is how the end of summer demand is going to be and how the end of 2013 will hold up. Right now investors are using anything as a source of funds but the movement here might be acting differently than it should be.
JON C. OGG