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6 Airline Stocks With Top Buy Ratings

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The International Air Transport Association (IATA), in its recent report, said that despite rising fuel costs, the demand for air travel has been increasing in the past few months.

For 2011, IATA has cut its global industry profit outlook to $8.6 billion from the December 2010 estimate of $9.1 billion, prompted by higher fuel costs and the Middle East unrest. However, for 2010, the IATA has raised its profit estimate to $16 billion from the prior forecast of $15.1 billion. Currently, fuel accounts for 29% of the industry's operating costs as against 26% in 2010.

The airline industry in the Asia-Pacific region is experiencing robust growth, characterized by lenient regulations, emergence of low-cost carriers, and a booming economy, led by offshoring of services and manufacturing industries. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for almost 16.9% of aircraft in the world and 21% of the global aircraft-leasing portfolio. Meanwhile, as per Frost & Sullivan estimates, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 5.8%, the total number of aircraft owned by global leasing firms is expected to increase from 6,180 aircraft in 2009 to reach 8,646 aircraft in 2015.

Based on analysts' consensus estimates polled by Bloomberg, these six stocks from the airline industry have upsides ranging from 12% to 39% over the next 12 months, with strong buy and hold ratings. These airline companies have strong company fundamentals that will support future growth.

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