Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK) from a hold rating to a sell rating in a research note issued to investors on Tuesday.
According to Zacks, “Shares of Alaska Air Group have underperformed its industry in a year's time. Adding to its woes, the company’s load factor in February declined as capacity expansion outweighed traffic growth. The metric declined in January as well. Moreover, high labor and fuel costs affected the company’s bottom line. Apart from high labor and fuel costs, expenses related to the acquisition of Virgin America are limiting bottom-line growth. The company's below-par performance with respect to unit revenues also remains a concern. In fact, the pessimism surrounding the company is further evident from the Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings being revised 12.9% downward in the last 60 days. We are, however, impressed by the company’s efforts to reward shareholders through dividends and buybacks. “
Several other research analysts have also recently weighed in on the stock. ValuEngine raised shares of Alaska Air Group from a hold rating to a buy rating in a report on Friday, December 1st. Stifel Nicolaus reissued a buy rating and issued a $105.00 price target (down from $115.00) on shares of Alaska Air Group in a report on Wednesday, January 10th. JPMorgan Chase & Co. cut shares of Alaska Air Group from a neutral rating to an underweight rating and increased their price target for the company from $65.48 to $67.00 in a report on Tuesday, January 30th. UBS cut shares of Alaska Air Group from a buy rating to a neutral rating in a report on Thursday, February 15th. Finally, Imperial Capital reissued an in-line rating and issued a $66.00 price target (down from $70.00) on shares of Alaska Air Group in a report on Thursday, February 1st. Three analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have given a hold rating, eight have issued a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the company. The stock presently has a consensus rating of Hold and a consensus price target of $84.69.
Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK) last issued its earnings results on Thursday, January 25th. The transportation company reported $0.83 earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter, meeting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.83. The company had revenue of $1.96 billion for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $1.96 billion. Alaska Air Group had a net margin of 12.96% and a return on equity of 24.39%. Alaska Air Group’s quarterly revenue was up 28.7% compared to the same quarter last year. During the same period in the prior year, the firm earned $1.56 EPS. analysts predict that Alaska Air Group will post 5.71 earnings per share for the current year.
The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which was paid on Thursday, March 8th. Stockholders of record on Tuesday, February 20th were issued a dividend of $0.32 per share. The ex-dividend date was Friday, February 16th. This is a boost from Alaska Air Group’s previous quarterly dividend of $0.30. This represents a $1.28 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 2.04%. Alaska Air Group’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is currently 15.46%.
In other news, EVP Andrew R. Harrison sold 2,350 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Thursday, March 8th. The shares were sold at an average price of $64.88, for a total transaction of $152,468.00. Following the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 24,092 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,563,088.96. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, VP Christopher Michael Berry sold 460 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, February 21st. The stock was sold at an average price of $97.00, for a total transaction of $44,620.00. Following the transaction, the vice president now directly owns 1,997 shares in the company, valued at $193,709. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders have sold 13,373 shares of company stock worth $884,697 over the last ninety days. Insiders own 0.57% of the company’s stock.
Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the stock. MetLife Investment Advisors LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Alaska Air Group during the 4th quarter worth approximately $2,799,000. Westwood Holdings Group Inc. acquired a new stake in shares of Alaska Air Group during the 4th quarter worth approximately $24,791,000. Element Capital Management LLC acquired a new stake in shares of Alaska Air Group during the 4th quarter worth approximately $46,474,000. Macquarie Group Ltd. boosted its position in shares of Alaska Air Group by 194.3% during the 4th quarter. Macquarie Group Ltd. now owns 43,550 shares of the transportation company’s stock worth $3,201,000 after acquiring an additional 28,750 shares in the last quarter. Finally, Financial Advocates Investment Management acquired a new stake in shares of Alaska Air Group during the 4th quarter worth approximately $278,000. Institutional investors and hedge funds own 86.32% of the company’s stock.
About Alaska Air Group
Alaska Air Group, Inc is the holding company of Alaska Airlines (Alaska), Virgin America Inc, Horizon Air (Horizon) and other business units. The Company operates through three segments: Mainline, Regional and Horizon. Its Mainline segment includes Alaska’s and Virgin America’s scheduled air transportation for passengers and cargo throughout the United States, and in parts of Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba.
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