Airline Stock Nosedives After Lowered Unit Revenue Guidance

J. P. Morgan and Cowen have already issued price-target cuts to AAL

by Patrick Martin

Published on Jan 10, 2019 at 9:11 AM

The shares of American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ:AAL) are down 6.4% in electronic trading this morning and heading toward the bottom of the Nasdaq, after the airliner slashed its fourth-quarter unit revenue forecast to 1.5% from the previous 1.5%-3.5% estimate. This is the same metric that triggered a similar sell-off from sector peer Delta Air Lines (DAL) last week. In response, Cowen and J. P. Morgan Securities have issued price-target cuts to $43 and $40, respectively. 

American Airlines stock hasn't traded in the $43 area since late September, and that rally was swiftly contained by its 160-day moving average. The shares have shed 36% year-over-year, carving out a channel of lower highs since March, closing at $33.42 yesterday. AAL fell to an annual low of $28.81 on Jan. 3, but the damage today seems to be contained at the $30 level, an area that has been a cushion in recent months. 

Analysts are still flying high with the airliner, though. Of the 14 brokerages covering AAL, 12 rate it "buy" or better, with zero "sells" on the books. Further, the equity's average 12-month price target of $47.94 is a 54% premium to last night's closing perch of $33.42.  

Shorts don't seem interested, either. Short interest fell by 9.4% in the last two reporting periods to 24.27 million shares, and is 27% off its 12-month high back in November. This represents a slim 5.9% of AAL's total available float, and only 2.5 times the average daily trading volume. 

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