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What's in the Cards for Alaska Air (ALK) in Q3 Earnings?

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Alaska Air Group, Inc. (ALK - Free Report) is scheduled to release third-quarter 2020 results on Oct 22, before market open.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for third-quarter bottom line has widened from a loss of $2.73 per share to a loss of $2.94 per share in the past 60 days.

Against this backdrop, let’s discuss the factors that might have impacted the company’s September-quarter performance.

Factors Likely in Play

In line with the second quarter, Alaska Air’s third-quarter performance is likely to have been dented by coronavirus-induced weak passenger revenues due to low air-travel demand. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for total passenger revenues indicates a 75.1% decline from the number reported in the year-ago quarter.

In order to mitigate the low-demand scenario, the carrier is trimming its capacity. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for available seat miles (a measure of capacity) implies a 55.1% decrease from the number reported in the year-ago quarter. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for traffic (measured in revenue passenger miles) suggests a drop of 74.8% from the prior-year quarter’s reported figure.

With traffic declining faster than capacity cuts, load factor (% of seats filled by passengers) is likely to have tanked in the third quarter. Notably, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for Alaska Air’s third-quarter 2020 passenger load factor stands at a dismal 47.3%, a significant decline from 86% reported in third-quarter 2019.

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Price and EPS Surprise

Alaska Air Group, Inc. Price and EPS Surprise

Alaska Air Group, Inc. price-eps-surprise | Alaska Air Group, Inc. Quote

However, decreased fuel prices might reflect on Alaska Air’s bottom line. Notably, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for economic fuel price per gallon suggests a 39.9% drop from the figure reported in the September quarter of 2019.

What the Zacks Model Unveils

Our proven model does not conclusively predict a bottom-line outperformance for Alaska Air this time around. The combination of a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) increases the odds of a positive surprise. But that is not the case here. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Earnings ESP: Alaska Air has an Earnings ESP of +1.82%. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.

Zacks Rank: Alaska Air carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell), currently.

Highlights of Q2

Alaska Air Group incurred a loss of $3.54 per share (excluding $1.81 from non-recurring items) in the second quarter of 2020, wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of $3.39. In the year-ago quarter, the company reported earnings of $2.17. Amid coronavirus concerns, significantly low air-travel demand weighed on the company’s performance. Revenues came in at $421 million, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $307.7 million. The top line declined 82% year over year.

Stocks to Consider

Investors interested in the broader Transportation sector may consider Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings (KNX - Free Report) , United Parcel Service (UPS - Free Report) and C.H. Robinson Worldwide (CHRW - Free Report) as these stocks possess the right combination of elements to beat on earnings this reporting cycle.

Knight-Swift has an Earnings ESP of +6.79% and is Zacks #2 Ranked, presently. The company will release third-quarter 2020 results on Oct 21.

UPS has an Earnings ESP of +5.40% and a Zacks Rank of 2 at present. The company will release third-quarter 2020 results on Oct 28.

C.H. Robinson has an Earnings ESP of +1.35% and is currently a #2 Ranked player. The company will release third-quarter 2020 results on Oct 27.

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