J.P. Morgan Securities analysts offered a generally optimistic view of airline stocks Monday, upgrading JetBlue Airways (JBLU) - Get JetBlue Airways Corporation Report , although they downgraded Alaska Air Group (ALK) - Get Alaska Air Group, Inc. Report .
Third-quarter earnings in general have been positive, Jamie Baker and Abdul Tambal wrote. "Sentiment was already on the mend, in our view, but earnings season provided another shot in the arm," they wrote.
American Airlines (AAL) - Get American Airlines Group, Inc. Report "came out swinging," JetBlue "offered [revenue per available seat mile] reassurances, Southwest (LUV) - Get Southwest Airlines Co. Report "wasn't shy about its cost challenges," and Spirit Airlines (SAVE) - Get Spirit Airlines, Inc. Report "guided up," the analysts said.
And for the industry, "Most importantly, domestic capacity sentiment ... improved."
The analysts raised their rating on JetBlue to overweight from neutral. They expect it "to limp across the $2.50 earnings line in 2020." As a result, "upside potential to our JetBlue target price of $24 exceeds 25%."
JetBlue traded at $19.19, up 2.3%.
J.P. Morgan downgraded Alaska Air to neutral from overweight. "Alaska Air's surge toward our $76 target has left limited [forecast] upside potential," the analysts wrote.
Still, "we have more confidence in Alaska Air's ability to expand margins in 2020 than we do JetBlue's ability to exceed $2.50 in earnings."
Alaska Air traded at $70.09, down 2.1%. American Air shares rose 2.2% to $31.53. Southwest stock added 1.3% to $57.50. and Spirit Airlines ticked up 0.6% to $38.15.
The author owns no shares of the companies named.