Goldman Sachs Sweeps Airline Sector With Bear Notes

The analyst warned against inflation pressures

Deputy Editor
Oct 6, 2021 at 10:11 AM
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Goldman Sachs has hit two major flight names with downgrades, lowering its outlook on American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ:AAL) and JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ:JBLU) as inflationary pressures continue to mount. The analyst downgraded the former to "sell" from "neutral," and cut the latter to "neutral" from "buy," also slashing its price target to $17 from $20. 

The brokerage highlighted American Airlines in particular, noting the firm's debt load, and adding that it expects the shares of AAL to "underperform as its relatively higher operating leverage weighs on its profitability recovery given our views on capacity/pricing." The stock was last seen down 4.9% at $20.41.

More broadly, it has been a choppy couple of months for AAL, which still sports a 30% year-to-date lead, but has been struggling with the $22 level since late June. Today's drop put the equity back below its 10-day moving average, too, which has been propping it up since the middle of last month.

Options bears are likely cheering American Airline stock's collapse, as long puts have been much more popular than usual off late. This is per the equity's 50-day put/call volume ratio that stands higher than 99% of all other readings from the past year at the  International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). 

Meanwhile, JBLU is up 5.7% this year, though the 100-day moving average has put a cap on gains in recent sessions and in the past six months, the stock has lost over 27%. For the day, JBLU is down 5.1% at $15.30. 

Analyst sentiment is still mostly optimistic on JBLU, though, with eight of the 11 in coverage calling it a "buy" or better, coming into today. The brokerage bunch has not looked as kindly on AAL, however, with 10 "hold" or worse recommendations to its name, prior to today's downgrade, compared to three "strong buy" ratings. 

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