Zacks Investment Research Downgrades Alaska Air Group (ALK) to Sell

Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report issued on Tuesday.

According to Zacks, “Shares of Alaska Air Group have underperformed its industry in a year's time. Adding to its woes, the company’s load factor in February declined as capacity expansion outweighed traffic growth. The metric declined in January as well. Moreover, high labor and fuel costs affected the company’s bottom line. Apart from high labor and fuel costs, expenses related to the acquisition of Virgin America are limiting bottom-line growth. The company's below-par performance with respect to unit revenues also remains a concern. In fact, the pessimism surrounding the company is further evident from the Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings being revised 12.9% downward in the last 60 days. We are, however, impressed by the company’s efforts to reward shareholders through dividends and buybacks. “

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A number of other analysts also recently commented on ALK. Buckingham Research decreased their price target on Alaska Air Group from $90.00 to $88.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a research report on Friday, January 26th. Morgan Stanley set a $78.00 price target on Alaska Air Group and gave the company a “buy” rating in a research report on Friday, February 23rd. Imperial Capital reaffirmed an “in-line” rating and set a $66.00 price target (down from $70.00) on shares of Alaska Air Group in a research report on Thursday, February 1st. Cowen reaffirmed an “outperform” rating and set a $84.00 price target (down from $93.00) on shares of Alaska Air Group in a research report on Friday, January 26th. Finally, Barclays downgraded Alaska Air Group from an “overweight” rating to an “equal weight” rating and decreased their price target for the company from $90.00 to $80.00 in a research report on Wednesday, January 10th. Three research analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating, eight have given a buy rating and two have issued a strong buy rating to the stock. The company presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $87.53.

Shares of Alaska Air Group (ALK) opened at $65.10 on Tuesday. The company has a quick ratio of 0.77, a current ratio of 0.79 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.61. The company has a market capitalization of $8,180.50, a P/E ratio of 7.86, a PEG ratio of 1.02 and a beta of 0.84. Alaska Air Group has a 52 week low of $59.25 and a 52 week high of $97.06.

Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, January 25th. The transportation company reported $0.83 EPS for the quarter, meeting the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.83. The company had revenue of $1.96 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $1.96 billion. Alaska Air Group had a return on equity of 24.39% and a net margin of 12.96%. Alaska Air Group’s revenue was up 28.7% on a year-over-year basis. During the same period last year, the business posted $1.56 earnings per share. equities research analysts predict that Alaska Air Group will post 5.72 EPS for the current year.

In other news, CEO Gary L. Beck sold 6,360 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Friday, March 9th. The stock was sold at an average price of $65.10, for a total value of $414,036.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 3,316 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $215,871.60. The transaction was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available through this hyperlink. Also, EVP Andrew R. Harrison sold 2,350 shares of the firm’s stock in a transaction on Thursday, March 8th. The stock was sold at an average price of $64.88, for a total value of $152,468.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the executive vice president now directly owns 24,092 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $1,563,088.96. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Insiders sold 13,373 shares of company stock valued at $884,697 over the last three months. Company insiders own 0.57% of the company’s stock.

Several institutional investors have recently bought and sold shares of the company. BlackRock Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of Alaska Air Group by 9.3% in the fourth quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 7,310,003 shares of the transportation company’s stock worth $537,358,000 after acquiring an additional 621,021 shares during the period. OppenheimerFunds Inc. boosted its holdings in shares of Alaska Air Group by 12,449.2% in the fourth quarter. OppenheimerFunds Inc. now owns 1,560,244 shares of the transportation company’s stock worth $114,693,000 after acquiring an additional 1,547,811 shares during the period. Geode Capital Management LLC boosted its holdings in shares of Alaska Air Group by 3.2% in the fourth quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 1,371,750 shares of the transportation company’s stock worth $100,681,000 after acquiring an additional 42,290 shares during the period. Clearbridge Investments LLC boosted its holdings in shares of Alaska Air Group by 0.5% in the fourth quarter. Clearbridge Investments LLC now owns 1,313,946 shares of the transportation company’s stock worth $96,588,000 after acquiring an additional 6,217 shares during the period. Finally, Dimensional Fund Advisors LP boosted its holdings in shares of Alaska Air Group by 3.2% in the third quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 1,262,058 shares of the transportation company’s stock worth $96,254,000 after acquiring an additional 38,870 shares during the period. 86.32% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About Alaska Air Group

Alaska Air Group, Inc is the holding company of Alaska Airlines (Alaska), Virgin America Inc, Horizon Air (Horizon) and other business units. The Company operates through three segments: Mainline, Regional and Horizon. Its Mainline segment includes Alaska’s and Virgin America’s scheduled air transportation for passengers and cargo throughout the United States, and in parts of Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica and Cuba.

Analyst Recommendations for Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK)

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