This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
ADVERTISEMENT
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

US Airways Saga Proves Mergers Only a Band-Aid

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The merger between US Airways (LCC) and America West two years ago was in many ways among the most successful airline deals in history, but it hasn't done much for long-term shareholders.

In fact, US Airways shares recently dipped below $20, their price when the airline emerged from bankruptcy in September 2005. The shares traded as high as $63.27 in November 2006. On Friday, they closed at $20.77.

To be sure, some investors made money. Most prominent among them is Boston hedge fund PAR Investment Partners, an early investor during the US Airways bankruptcy and at one time the combined airline's largest shareholder. PAR sold 6.75 million shares in May at around $36 and 6.5 million in February at about $58. It had bought about 11 million shares at $15 and another 2.75 million at around $40.

But in general, the recent story of US Airways is a cautionary chapter in the long saga of how airlines have destroyed investment value throughout the industry's history.

The US Airways and America West combination "shows that mergers work, but they work in the short term," says Morningstar airline analyst Brian Nelson. "This transaction enabled the company to extract several hundred million dollars in network synergies, but I don't think it was enough to ultimately fix the carrier or to stimulate widespread consolidation."

It is easily forgotten today, but giddiness abounded in the merger's early days. The transaction combined an airline in bankruptcy with a smaller airline closing in on bankruptcy to produce astonishing second-quarter 2006 growth in revenue per available seat mile: 28.8% at the former carrier and 18.6% at the latter. In the spring of 2006, shares surged, and JP Morgan analyst Jamie Baker set a target price of $100.

Flush with success -- or perhaps aware that it could not possibly continue -- CEO Doug Parker mounted a hostile bid to acquire Delta (DAL). That merger would have enabled the eighth-biggest airline, measured by 2004 revenue passenger miles, to take over the seventh- and third-largest airlines in less than two years.

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

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.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

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.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!

Markets

DOW 18,053.71 +23.50 0.13%
S&P 500 2,088.77 +6.89 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,806.8590 +33.3870 0.70%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs