Alaska Air Group

Investing in airlines has been a long-term losing proposition - that is, unless you have invested in Alaska Air Group ( ALK), which operates both Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. This regional airline has grown revenue and earnings per share every year since 2009. Unlike most of its peers, Alaska Air does not have an indebtedness problem; the company has sufficient amounts of cash and short-term investment to cover its long-term debt.

Earnings are expected to increase 19% in 2012 and 12% in 2013 on revenues increases of 8% in 2012 and 5% in 2013. The company is also using its free cash flow to repurchase stock.

With jet fuel prices finally having peaked, the company might find headwinds turning to tailwinds.

As of the most recently reported quarter, Alaska Air was one of Renaissance Technologies' top holdings.


Humana ( HUM) is a health care insurance company that offers its services through employer plans, government-sponsored plans such as Medicare, and direct to individuals. In total, as of the end of 2011, the company had over 18 million members enrolled in its medical plans.

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The company sells for a price-to-sales below the industry average and well below that of its largest competitors, including Aetna (AET), with a price-to-sales of 0.4; Cigna (CI), with a price-to-sales of 0.6; and United Health Group (UNH), with a price-to-sales of 0.6. Revenue is expected to rise 7% in 2012 and 9% in 2013.

Any clarity in the health care legislation, which is now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, should work to the company and industry's benefit.

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