MINNEAPOLIS (Stockpickr) -- The airline industry cannot catch a break. It is a brutal business that lacks consistent profit growth, and its history is pockmarked by periods of large losses, stock collapses and bankruptcy. As a result, many investors, pro and amateur, avoid the sector entirely. Indeed, 2011 is proving to be another difficult year for the air carriers.Stocks in the group are widely lower this year thanks to significantly higher oil prices. When jet fuel goes up sharply, it is difficult to generate a profit. Airlines have difficulty passing along the increased expense to consumers due to intense competition. Hedging for such a high price environment is expensive and can negatively impact results should oil prices fall. The sell-en-masse mentality of investors may present an opportunity to buy airline stocks at big discounts today. Beneath the surface of higher oil prices is an industry that could rebound strongly if oil prices deteriorate or if the market is able to absorb the higher cost in the form of increased ticket costs to passengers. Related: 5 Rocket Stocks to Buy This Week Consolidation in the industry has resulted in tighter capacity. A strengthening economy has allowed airlines to be creative with surcharges for baggage, food and improved seating that have changed the profit model of the business. Case in point is the move by airlines to shift FAA fees to ticket surcharges after Congress failed to extend FAA powers last week. Things may not be as bad as it seems. There can be no doubt that most airlines today are priced for the bust phase of the cycle. Historically. the time to buy is when things seem to be at their worst. Here are five airline stocks to consider buying today.
Delta Air Lines
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