Southwest Example Shows Wall Street May Be All Wrong on JetBlue

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Wall Street got what it wanted Thursday when JetBlue (JBLU)  CEO Dave Barger threw in the towel and JetBlue shares rose early Friday -- though not as much as expected -- primarily because analysts believe the carrier will move quickly to add bag fees, which they estimate will add as much as $200 million in annual revenue.

An hour after Friday's opening bell, JetBlue shares were up 20 cents to $11.53. The shares gave up some of the gains they had achieved in premarket trading, when they were up 50 cents.

While Wall Street analysts have been united in their hopes for Barger and JetBlue, travel writer Joe Brancatelli sees it all differently.

"These analysts don't seem to understand that JetBlue may not be a profitable operation without being different," Brancatelli said. "JetBlue is Apple (APPL)  and all the others are Android.

"The analysts act like the legacy carriers know how to do everything," Brancatelli added. "Not long ago, the legacy carriers were all in bankruptcy court. JetBlue continues to make money and they continue to make a nice return and they do that because people like the product."

In a prepared statement released Thursday, Barger said he has "been looking for the right time to take the next step in my life." On Thursday he gave a few interviews, but he disclosed little. He told The Wall Street Journal  that "I have to figure out what I will do next."

Barger was more forthcoming when a Businessweek reporter nabbed him outside the Boyd International conference in Las Vegas in August, days after the appearance of a story in TheStreet titled "JetBlue Analysts Say 'Bring Us the Head of Dave Barger.'"

In Las Vegas, Barger snapped, "You want to compare my track record to bankruptcies and layoffs?" He was referring to the bankruptcies at most major carriers. "Go ahead. I'll take that comparison."

He also reminded that the JetBlue model is different. It is all about providing a premium product at coach prices. "I may be alone among CEOs in the industry, but I don't believe we're a commodity [business]," Barger told BusinessWeek.

That seems to be something Wall Street has chosen to forget.

Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

To contact this writer, click here.

Follow @tedreednc


 

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