CHARLOTTE (TheStreet) -- Airline shares are closing out a bumpy week as the vision of a finally rational industry was challenged by disappointing unit revenue numbers from two major carriers.
The two airlines both put some of the blame for lower PRASM on the sequester, suggesting that it reduced travel. Delta also listed a variety of other factors, including the impact of a weakening yen as well as "lower than expected demand as a result of our attempt to drive higher yields, and temporary inefficiencies during implementation of new revenue management technology."
The disappointments triggered share price declines throughout the sector. Delta closed Thursday at $14.75, down 10% for the first four days of the week. US Airways closed Thursday at $15.69, down 7% in four days. United (UAL) closed at $29.30, down 6%, while Alaska (ALK) was down 4% at $13.47. Among the major airlines, only Spirit (SAVE) was up, closing Thursday at $25.51, a gain of 1% in four days.Late Thursday, JP Morgan analyst Jamie Baker wrote in a report that the industry is facing "continued, uninspiring demand, exacerbated by the impact of sequestration," but noted that fuel prices have fallen 25 cents per gallon since February's peak. As a result, he said, his estimates have changed little. Still, Baker believes the impact of sequestration is real. "Government demand for air travel contributes 3% to 4% of industry revenue, and is estimated to have declined by as much as 30% in the past month," he said. Plus, there's the downstream impact to consumers that rely on government funding. And yes, that likely means negative monthly RASM for some, such as US Airways in April." In general. airline analysts including Baker are sticking with the carriers, making the case that the industry has in fact been transformed by three key recent changes: consolidation, rational capacity management and the introduction of the ancillary fee model. CRT Capital Markets analyst Mike Derchin argued in a recent report that the group's multiple, currently around 4.7, ought to be between 5 and 6.5.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV