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Southwest Airlines Shares Drop About 3% as Rising COVID-19 Cases Stall Revenue Improvement

By:
Vivek Kumar

Southwest Airlines, the world's largest low-cost carrier, said modest improvements in passenger demand and bookings seen in the past few months were fading due to recent surge in COVID-19 cases, sending its shares down about 3% in pre-market trading.

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Southwest Airlines, the world’s largest low-cost carrier, said modest improvements in passenger demand and bookings seen in the past few months were fading due to recent surge in COVID-19 cases, sending its shares down about 3% in pre-market trading.

The U.S. low-cost carrier forecasts its fourth-quarter 2020 capacity to decline about 40% year-over-year. Southwest Airlines recently adjusted its January 2021 published flight schedule, and currently estimates its January 2021 capacity to dip in the range of 35% to 40% year-over-year.

“While the Company expected the election to impact trends, it is unclear whether the softness in booking trends is also a direct result of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. As such, the Company remains cautious in this uncertain revenue environment,” Southwest added.

Southwest Airlines shares fell about 3% to $41.98 in pre-market trading on Thursday; the stock is down about 20% so far this year.

Southwest Airlines Stock Price Forecast

Thirteen equity analysts forecast the average price in 12 months at $47.40 with a high forecast of $59.00 and a low forecast of $40.00. The average price target represents a 9.67% increase from the last price of $43.22. From those 13 analysts, nine rated “Buy”, three rated “Hold” and one rated “Sell”, according to Tipranks.

Morgan Stanley gave the base target price of $59 with a high of $90 under a bull-case scenario and $29 under the worst-case scenario. The firm currently has an “Underweight” rating on the world’s largest low-cost carrier’s stock. Southwest Airlines had its price objective increased by UBS Group to $52 from $48.

Several other analysts have also recently commented on the stock. Bernstein raised their price target to $44 from $29. Barclays increased their target price on shares of Southwest Airlines to $40 from $35. Wolfe Research cut shares to a peer perform rating from an outperform. Citigroup cut their price target to $36 from $38 and set a neutral rating.

Analyst Comments

“Southwest Airlines (LUV) is arguably the highest quality airline in the U.S. with a good balance sheet and high margins. As a largely US domestic medium-haul airline, we believe its network is in a sweet spot for a COVID rebound and it has one of the attractive loyalty programs with a loyal customer base,” said Ravi Shanker, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“All of these make LUV the most resilient at the bottom and well-positioned for a recovery, especially being able to capitalize on share gain or M&A opportunities as other Airlines falter/lag.”

Upside and Downside Risks

Risks to Upside: 1) COVID Vaccine timing. 2) Industry Consolidation. 3) Industry Rationalization & Fare Stability – highlighted by Morgan Stanley.

Risks to Downside: 1) COVID Second Wave. 2) Alliance/Partnership Disruption/Breakage.

Check out FX Empire’s earnings calendar

About the Author

Vivek completed his education from the University of Mumbai in Economics and possesses stronghold in writing on stocks, commodities, foreign exchange, and bonds.

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