Airline Stocks LUV and SAVE Try to Shake Ugly Earnings History

Shares of Southwest and Spirit have not performed well in the session after earnings

Oct 25, 2017 at 2:52 PM
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Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV) and Spirit Airlines Incorporated (NASDAQ:SAVE) have had dramatically different years from a technical perspective. LUV shares have rallied more than 35% during the past 12 months, while SAVE has dropped over 30%. As such, Wall Street is positioned quite differently on the airline stocks.

For instance, short interest has been falling fast on Southwest Airlines, down almost 23% in the last reporting period alone. As for Spirit Airlines, short interest rose by 34.2% during the last two reporting periods, part of an unbelievable multi-month rise in these bearish bets. In fact, short interest on SAVE just touched a record high.

It's a similar setup among analysts, with almost all those covering LUV saying it's a "buy" or "strong buy." Meanwhile, SAVE has nine "hold" ratings and just three "strong buy" recommendations. But with both companies set to report earnings before the open tomorrow, it's worth noting one important similarity.

That is, both stocks have struggled mightily in the session after reporting earnings. Starting with Southwest, the equity has closed lower the day after earnings in four of the last quarters, including a 5% drop in July. Going back eight quarters, the shares have averaged a single-day swing of 5.6% after earnings. This time around, options traders are pricing in 6.2% move.

SAVE, meanwhile, has only one positive post-earnings session over the last eight quarters, and last quarter the stock plummeted 18% after earnings. The options market is pricing in another big move this time around, with data pointing toward an expected single-day move of 10% tomorrow.

Another similarity is that both stocks have made bigger-than-expected moves on the charts over the past year, compared to what was expected from options traders. This is according to LUV and SAVE's respective Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecards (SVS) of 93 and 80.

Finally, both stocks are sliding today. Southwest Airlines was last seen 3.4% lower at $56.80, and Spirit Airlines is off 2.3% at $33.61, as sector peer Alaska Air Group (ALK) sells off after earnings. While this is just more of the same for SAVE stock, LUV earlier bottomed out right at its 200-day moving average.

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