Azul S.A. (AZUL - Free Report) delivered impressive traffic figures for November 2018. Consolidated traffic (measured in revenue passenger kilometers or RPKs) improved 14.4% to 1.9 billion on the back of 19.8% rise on the international front and 12.9% growth on the domestic front.
On a year-over-year basis, consolidated capacity (or available seat kilometers/ASKs) expanded 12.4% to 2.2 billion, owing to 18.7% growth in international capacity and 10.8% rise in domestic capacity.
Consolidated load factor (percentage of seats filled by passengers) inched up 1.5 percentage points (pp) to 83.6%, courtesy of traffic growth outpacing capacity expansion. Domestically, load factor increased to 82.5% from 80.9% in the year-ago period. Load factor on the international front expanded to 87.7% from 86.9% in the prior-year period.
At the end of the first 11 months of 2018, RPK was up 16.7% and ASK grew 16.3%. Also, load factor inched up 0.3 pp to 82.2% on a year-over-year basis.
In spite of reporting impressive traffic figures, Azul has its own share of challenges. Despite the current downtrend in oil prices, the bottom line continues to be hurt due to costs related to aircraft fuel. Depreciation in the Brazilian currency is also a major headwind. For 2018, Azul projects an increase in costs of R$800 million and R$900 million for currency fluctuation and fuel price, respectively. In fact, these concerns have compelled the company to trim guidance for current-year operating margin. Operating margin is anticipated to be 9% compared with the previous guidance of 9-11%.
Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider
Azul carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
A few better-ranked stocks in the Zacks Transportation sector are Spirit Airlines, Inc. (SAVE - Free Report) , Hertz Global Holdings, Inc. (HTZ - Free Report) and Air France-KLM SA (AFLYY - Free Report) . While Hertz Global carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), Spirit Airlines and Air France sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Shares of Hertz Global, Spirit Airlines and Air France have gained 10.3%, 74.3% and 29.6% in the past six months, respectively.
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