2 Airline Stocks Nosedive on Disappointing Revenue Guidance

VSTM is among the top percentage gainers on the Nasdaq after positive drug trial results

Sep 6, 2017 at 3:17 PM
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U.S. stocks are trading higher this afternoon, after President Trump voiced support for a Democrat-led effort to push through a three-month increase to the debt ceiling. Meanwhile, airline stocks United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE:UAL) and JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ:JBLU) are swimming in the red ahead of Hurricane Irma's potential U.S. landfall, and biotech stock Verastem Inc (NASDAQ:VSTM) is soaring on positive drug trial results. Here's a quick look at what's moving shares of UAL, JBLU, and VSTM.

United Continental Cuts Key Revenue Metric

As insurance stocks, cruise stocks, and travel stocks struggle in the face of Hurricane Irma, United Continental is following suit, with the stock down 1.7% to trade at $60.08. The company this morning cut its current-quarter passenger unit revenue forecast, citing lower average fares, higher fuel costs, and the impact of Hurricane Harvey.

UAL touched a record high of $83.04 as recently as June 2, but has since dropped roughly 28%. The airline stock is now poised to close below its 20-month moving average for the first time in a year. 

In response to the stock's recent slide, options traders on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and the NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have been leaning bearish on UAL. The airline sports a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.25, which ranks in the 78th percentile of its annual range.

JetBlue Sinks on Lackluster Revenue Outlook

Like its sector peers UAL and Delta Air Lines (DAL), JetBlue Airways also provided a dismal forecast on current quarter revenue, pushing the stock down 1.8% to trade at $18.83. Down 16% year-to-date, JBLU shares are now at risk of their first monthly close beneath their 40-month moving average since November 2012.

Given the bleak price action, JBLU could be vulnerable to bearish analyst attention in the near term, as five of the 11 brokerages following the stock still rate it a "strong buy." In fact, just yesterday, UBS cut its price target on JetBlue stock to $23 from $25.

Verastem Stock Soars on Positive Drug Trial Results

Moving in the opposite direction, and ranking among the top percentage gainers on the Nasdaq today, is VSTM. The biotech stock was last seen up 28.6% to trade at $4.94, after duvelisib, the company's blood cancer drug, succeeded in a late-stage trial. Verastem said it plans to file for a new drug marketing application sometime during the first half of 2018.

Today's bull gap propelled VSTM to a nearly two-year high of $5.55 earlier in the session. VSTM is now up 341% year-to-date.

Some Verastem bears jumped ship just in the nick of time. Short interest on VSTM decreased by roughly 49% during the most recent reporting period, and now represents only 2.5% of the stock's total available float.


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