Why Airlines Could Take Off in October

Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK), Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL), and JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ:JBLU) are poised to fly next month

Sep 29, 2015 at 12:14 PM
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Each month, we highlight a handful of stocks that have historically outperformed. With October just around the corner, I decided once more to enlist the help of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White to see which names bulls should be watching in the month ahead. Interestingly, the airline sector rose to the top, with Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK), Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL), and JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ:JBLU) all ranking among the best October stocks of the past decade.

Below, you'll find a list of the 24 top-performing stocks in October, looking back 10 years. To qualify, each equity had to be positive at least four-fifths of the time. Below the chart, you'll find further commentary on ALK, DAL, and JBLU.

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Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK)

ALK has been an October standout, with positive returns in nine of the past 10 years, and an average single-month gain of 10.7%. Last October, the shares soared an incredible 22.3%, per the chart below. If that's not enough, ALK has had a strong 2015, rallying nearly 32% to trade at $78.71, and has been consolidating recently atop its 50-day moving average, which could act as a springboard moving forward.

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Should October prove once more to be a boon for ALK -- or the aforementioned trendline offer a boost -- it could send short sellers running to the hills. The stock's short interest ratio of 7.60 indicates it would take almost eight sessions for these bears to repurchase ALK's shorted shares, given typical daily trading levels. This pent-up buying demand could amplify the equity's anticipated upside move next month.

Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL)

At $44.73, DAL is sitting on a strong year-over-year advance of almost 24%. While the shares have largely traded in the $42-to-$48 range of late, they could break out next month, if recent history is any indicator. Since the company emerged from bankruptcy in April 2007, the stock has averaged an October gain of 13% -- and been positive in seven of eight years.

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Despite DAL's technical tenacity, traders have been buying to open puts over calls at an accelerated clip, per data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Specifically, over the past two weeks, the stock has amassed a put/call volume ratio of 0.41 -- in the 65th annual percentile. A capitulation among these skeptics could catalyze DAL's long-term ascent.

JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ:JBLU)

JBLU has been positive in eight of the last 10 Octobers, averaging a 7.5% pop. Should history repeat itself, the stock could make a run at its 12-year high of $27.36 from mid-September. As it stands, the shares have surged 60% year-to-date at $25.40.

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Option bears have been betting against the technical outperformer. Specifically, JBLU's 50-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 0.23 sits just 7 percentage points from a 12-month peak. Should these doubters throw in the towel, the stock could get an added lift.

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