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Airline stocks are cyclical and previous downturns have resulted in multiple airline failures and bankruptcies. It’s the question everyone’s been asking: Is it safe to buy airline stocks now? Which ones are the best-run companies?
Benzinga takes a look at some of the best airline stocks so you know where in this industry you should put your money.
Overview: Airline Stocks
In short, U.S. airline stocks have been lousy investments after the industry was deregulated in the late 1970s. The deregulation allowed companies to fiercely compete for business. The federal rule changes resulted in a boom and bust pattern — major profits when times were good and liquidations or bankruptcies when the economy went south.
Companies like Trans World Airlines (TWA), Braniff International and Eastern Air Lines vanished during this era and investors took billions in losses.
The early 2000s was a period of consolidation and restructuring. The number of airlines reduced and the remaining competed and secured the balance sheets of surviving companies. American Airlines Group merged with US Airways. Delta bought Northwest, and Southwest Airlines bought AirTran.
Today the airline industry helps propel around $2 trillion in economic activity.
Millions of jobs in the U.S. airline sector now fall into 3 categories:
- Regionals, which offer smaller-jet services to secondary markets under the brands of full-service companies.
- Full-service companies, which fly internationally, serve multiple markets and have various cabin classes.
- Discounters, which have fewer offerings and cover fewer destinations.
Best Online Brokers for Airline Stocks
You can buy airline stock through any online broker with access to the major stock exchanges. Powerful stock screeners, analysis and research tools are available for use by anyone who registers.
You may apply custom filters to identify stocks that fit your investing goals. Most online brokerages will also offer commission-free trades.
Here are Benzinga’s favorites to consider if you trade airline stocks.
Webull, founded in 2017, is a mobile app-based brokerage that features commission-free stock and exchange-traded fund (ETF) trading. It’s regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Webull offers active traders technical indicators, economic calendars, ratings from research agencies, margin trading and short-selling. Webull’s trading platform is designed for intermediate and experienced traders, although beginning traders can also benefit.
Webull is widely considered one of the best Robinhood alternatives.
- Active traders
- Intermediate traders
- Advanced traders
- No account maintenance fees or software platform fees
- No charges to open and maintain an account
- Intuitive trading platform with technical and fundamental analysis tools
- Does not support trading in mutual funds, bonds or OTC stocks
Moomoo is a commission-free mobile trading app available on Apple, Google and Windows devices. A subsidiary of Futu Holdings Ltd., it’s backed by venture capital affiliates of Matrix, Sequoia, and Tencent (NASDAQ: FUTU). Securities offered by Futu Inc., regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
Moomoo is another great alternative for Robinhood. This is an outstanding trading platform if you want to dive deep into smart trading. It offers impressive trading tools and opportunities for both new and advanced traders, including advanced charting, pre and post-market trading, international trading, research and analysis tools, and most popular of all, free Level 2 quotes.
Get started right away by downloading Moomoo to your phone, tablet or another mobile device.
- Cost-conscious traders
- Active and Advanced traders
- Over 8,000 different stocks that can be sold short
- Access trading and quotes in pre-market (4 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. ET) and post-market hours (4 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET)
- No minimum deposit to open an account.
- No chat support
It seems like new digital investment management platforms are sprouting up left and right, and for good reason — there’s a great need for easy, straightforward investment management that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg in fees or to get started. If you’re new to investing or an old hat who wants to make the switch to a virtual manager, deciding which features you need can be confusing if not overwhelming.
If you want a no-frills financial management platform, Axos Invest (formerly WiseBanyan) takes a traditional but sophisticated approach to automated online investing.
- Traditional investors trying out an automated investor for the first time
- New investors that want to take a hands-off approach to portfolio management
- Straightforward automated investing
- Relatively low account minimum and automated investing fee
- A solid roster of available investment account types
- Not a stand-out from other services if you’re someone who likes all the bells and whistles with your digital financial platform
- No direct relationship with a human financial advisor
This latest groundbreaking technology is IBKR GlobalAnalyst, a new trading tool that helps investors compare the rate of PEG or price-earnings growth valuations and provide more immediate and comprehensive financial metrics of stocks, globally.
Recognizing that stock selection can be challenging for investors to compare the valuations of domestic and international stocks, Interactive Brokers created GlobalAnalyst to offer investors a simple, yet powerful tool to easily evaluate investment opportunities around the world.
Using GlobalAnalyst, investors can search for stocks by region, country, industry, market capitalization and currency to uncover undervalued stocks worldwide. The resulting table displays the current market and financial metrics, including the PEG Ratio. The PEG Ratio is the PE ratio divided by the three-year compound earnings growth rate, and smaller PEG Ratios typically indicate undervalued companies.
- Price earnings growth valuations
- Easily evaluate investment opportunities
eToro is a broker that offers access to over 25 of the world’s most popular cryptocurrencies, forex and over 1600 stocks. They have a few unique education and useability tools. Traders can begin buying and selling in as little as 10 minutes.
eToro’s unique CopyTrader feature allows new investors to “copy” the buy and sell orders of professional investors, while the company’s eToro Club feature provides investors with a range of additional education tools and resources.
- Traders looking for an easy-to-use platform
- Traders who want to practice their trades using a virtual account before entering the market
- Simple platform that is easy to master
- CopyTrader feature that allows new traders to copy the same strategies used by professionals
- Virtual dummy account that gives you $100,000 to practice trades
- High non-trading fees
Features to Look for in an Airline Stock
You’ll want to ask yourself about unit revenue, stock liquidity and total debt ratio before you choose an airline stock. Here’s what you need to know:
- Unit revenue generally describes revenue statistics adjusted for the amount of flying an airline does. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) is the most common unit revenue statistic. It is obtained by dividing airline revenue from ticket sales by the number of available seat miles (ASMs).
Revenues from ticket sales typically rise and fall with air traffic. A higher PRASM is better because it means an airline squeezes more revenue from each unit of capacity.
Revenue per available seat mile (RASM) is an important evaluation metric and factors all sources of revenue. You should consider this for low-cost carriers that often rely on ancillary (non-ticket) revenue to drive sales.
- The stock’s liquidity refers to how quickly the shares of a stock can be sold or bought without significantly impacting the stock price. Airline stocks with low liquidity could be difficult to sell and result in huge losses if you can’t relinquish the shares when necessary.
- Total debt ratio is a great way to understand a company’s financial structure. It compares a firm’s total liabilities versus its total assets. Unlike debt-equity ratio, total debt ratio also factors in short-term liabilities and assets. This ratio may help you assess whether a company will face financial difficulty in future.
A firm with a huge debt ratio will probably incur higher interest payments. This will also reduce profits. A company may then experience difficulty raising capital since investors could see a higher risk of bankruptcy. A huge debt balance could be at risk of credit defaults if the market plummets.
Soar with Confidence in the Airline Industry
The future of the airline industry is still unclear. Some traders speculate further declines and want to use this opportunity to go short on airlines and airplane manufacturers. However, the worst may be behind us, creating an opportunity to buy airline stocks at a huge discount.
Many airline stocks lost significant value, so the risk-reward ratio is enticing should the stocks regain their previous price levels with the promise of federal relief in coronavirus aid.
Do your homework and avoid companies with vulnerable operations and balance sheets. Travel demand is expected to rise, so there’s ample room to soar into the foreseeable future.