Airline Stock Roundup: UAL, ALK & LUV's Q3 Fuel Cost Warning, HA's Dull View

In the past week, management of airline heavyweights — United Airlines UAL, Alaska Air Group ALK and Southwest Airlines LUV increased their respective projections for third-quarter 2023 fuel price per gallon. Hawaiian Holdings HA, meanwhile, revised its projections downward for key metrics for third-quarter as well as full-year 2023.

The devastation caused by wildfire to the Lahaina town in West Maui resulted in dull projections. Also, issues with RTX’s Pratt & Whitney engines that power Airbus’ popular A320neo jets added to the woes. We note that HA’s fleet includes A320neo jets with engines, which need to be inspected following problems identified by Pratt & Whitney. European carrier, Ryanair Holdings RYAAY, grabbed headlines by virtue of its stellar traffic numbers for the month of August.

Read the Last Airline Roundup here

Recap of the Past Week’s Most Important Stories

1. United Airlines’ management stated that “since mid-July 2023, jet fuel prices have climbed over 20%”. United Airlinesnow expects the fuel cost per gallon in the $2.95-$3.05 band (the earlier guidance was in the $2.5-$2.8 range). Southwest Airlines now expects the fuel cost per gallon in the $2.7-$2.8 band (the earlier guidance was in the $2.55-$2.65 range). Operating revenue per available seat mile for the third quarter of 2023 is now expected to decline in the 5-7% band from third-quarter 2022 actuals (the earlier projection was for a 3-7% decline).

Alaska Air now expects the fuel cost per gallon in the $3.15-$3.25 band (the earlier guidance was in the $2.7-$2.8 range). Due to high costs, the third-quarter adjusted pre-tax margin is now expected in the 10-12% range (earlier guidance was 14-16%). Total revenues are now expected to increase in the 1-2% range from third-quarter 2022 actuals (the earlier projection was for a 0-3% increase). Non-fuel unit costs are now expected to be down 1-2% (earlier guidance: down 0-2%). Available seat miles (a measure of capacity) are now expected to be up approximately 13% in third-quarter 2023 from the third-quarter 2022 actuals (earlier guidance: up 10-13%)

2. Ryanair, currently sporting a Zack Rank #1 (Strong Buy), reported highly impressive traffic numbers for the month of August, driven by upbeat air travel demand. The number of passengers ferried on RYAAY flights in August was 18.9 million, implying that 12% more passengers flew than a year ago. This was an all-time monthly high traffic number. Owing to upbeat traffic, the load factor (percentage of seats filled by passengers) was as high as 96% in August.

3. For the third quarter of 2023, available seat miles or ASM are now projected by HA to increase 4-5.5% from third-quarter 2022 levels (earlier guidance: 4.5-7.5% rise). Total revenues per available seat miles are now anticipated to decrease 4-7% from third-quarter 2022 levels (prior projection: 2-5% decline). Fuel price per gallon is now expected at $2.91 in third-quarter 2023 (the earlier view was $2.67). The effective tax rate is still anticipated to be 21% in the third quarter. ASMs are now projected to climb in the 8-10% band for full-year 2023 (earlier guidance: 8.5-10.5% jump).

Price Performance

All airline stocks traded in the red in the past week. As a result, the NYSE ARCA Airline Index declined 5% over the period to $58.66. Over the course of the past six months, the sector tracker has decreased 7.7%.

What’s Next in the Airline Space?

Stay tuned for the usual news updates in the space.
Ryanair Holdings PLC (RYAAY): Free Stock Analysis Report

United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL): Free Stock Analysis Report

Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV): Free Stock Analysis Report

Alaska Air Group, Inc. (ALK): Free Stock Analysis Report

Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. (HA): Free Stock Analysis Report

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