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TheStreet Open House

Note to JetBlue: Please Don't Change -- Just Drop Money-Losing Flights

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Wall Street wants change at JetBlue (JBLU - Get Report), and usually Wall Street gets what it wants. In fact, Wall Street is so confident of its influence that some analysts are already recommending JetBlue stock, based on their anticipation that 2015 will be a year of change.

The trouble is that, for consumers, change at JetBlue would probably be unwelcome. The JetBlue concept is to provide premium service at coach prices. That includes more legroom, free snacks, free TV and free checked bags. That word “free” is not at all something Wall Street likes to hear.

Unfortunately, JetBlue shares have been underperformers for the past two years. Over that time, Delta (DAL - Get Report) is up 306%, Southwest (LUV) is up 211%, Alaska (ALK) is up 153%, United (UAL) is up 142% and JetBlue is up 129%.

JetBlue shares closed Monday at $11.74, up 37% this year. That compares with Southwest, up 52%; American (AAL), up 50%; Delta up 34%; Alaska up 20% and United up 14%.

Read More: Americans Still Hate Bag Fees and Most Lack a Preferred Airline -- Poll

Last week, Imperial Capital analyst Bob McAdoo raised his one-year target price for JetBlue to $20 from $10, saying “Investor interest is focusing on possible management and strategy changes that could great enhance earnings.”

McAdoo's report came after CEO Dave Barger declared, during the carrier's second quarter earnings call in July, "It is no secret that I have a contract through the February 2015 time frame."

The secret involves what happens after February. 

In the meantime, McAdoo wrote, “In coming quarters, we expect increasing pressure on this management and the board to potentially bring changes to the business as currently configured.”

McAdoo said his list of proposed changes would add as much as $550 million to the base pretax income of $279 million. He recommends adding a first bag fee, which would result in an estimated $150 million to $200 million in annual revenue and adding seats, which could add $250 million to annual pretax income.

Read More: China Southern at Last Flies to New York, Thanks to Its Boeing 777 300ER

Additionally, he recommends cutting unprofitable routes ---primarily trans-continental routes and routes from Boston. “Flights to/from and along the West Coast corridor are generally unprofitable and have been for several years,” McAdoo wrote. “In addition, contrary to the comments in most quarterly earnings reviews, quite a number of the Boston domestic markets, including only those that have been in system for over a year, generate seven-figure losses annually.”

JetBlue’s top 10 money losers include Boston to Dallas, LAX, Phoenix, Washington National, Charlotte, Buffalo and Seattle, which annually lose between $3 million and $7.4 million each. Additionally, trans-con flights from Fort Lauderdale and Dulles to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Long Beach lose between $4.2 million and $6.6 million annually.

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