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American Airlines Shares Soar After Q4 Loss As Short-Sellers Feel Reddit Retail Heat

American Airlines could be the latest target of the Reddit-fueled retail surge, with shares rising the most in more than two years after a narrower-than-expected fourth quarter loss.

American Airlines Group Inc.  (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group Inc. Report shares soared the most in more than two years Thursday, in heavy trading volume, after the biggest U.S. carrier posted a narrower-than-expected fourth quarter loss amid the ongoing interest in heavily-shorted stocks on Wall Street. 

American said its adjusted loss for the three months ending in December was pegged at $3.86 per share, down from a profit of $1.15 over the same period last year but inside Wall Street forecasts of -$4.11. Group revenues also topped analysts' estimates at $4 billion, but were down more than 64% from last year, a figure that largely matches the plunge in sale s reported by rivals such as Delta Air Lines  (DAL) - Get Delta Air Lines Inc. Report earlier this month.

Data from S3 Partners, which tracks which tracks details on short positions, indicates a short interest position of around 28.6% of the group's outstanding shares. 

“Our fourth-quarter financial results close out the most challenging year in our company’s history,” said CEO Doug Parker. “However, we couldn’t be prouder of the American Airlines team and the great things they accomplished last year. Through collaboration, resourcefulness and hard work, our team did its part to keep the economy moving. The American team flew more customers than any other airline in 2020, and they did so safely and with the utmost care.

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“As we look to the year ahead, 2021 will be a year of recovery. While we don’t know exactly when passenger demand will return, as vaccine distribution takes hold and travel restrictions are lifted, we will be ready," Parker added. "We are confident that the actions we have taken to improve our customer experience, enhance our network and increase our efficiency position us well for the future.”

American shares were marked 27.3% higher in early trading Thursday, with more than 15 million shares changing hands in pre-market dealing alone, to change hands at $21.15 each.