Ryanair Holdings (RYAAY - Free Report) posted impressive November traffic figures primarily owing to a solid demand for air travel. Traffic (including 0.5 million from its LaudaMotion unit in Austria) rose 6% year over year to 11 million.
However, load factor (% of seats filled with passengers) remained unaltered at 96%. This European low-cost carrier’s passenger growth, excluding traffic from LaudaMotion unit, was 4% in the month. On a rolling annual basis, total traffic increased 9% to 151.6 million.
Despite struggling with low capacity from the grounding of more fuel-efficient B737 MAX jets, the carrier’s passenger traffic, on the whole, was consistently strong. Notably, traffic rose an impressive 11% in the first half of fiscal 2020 (ended Sep 30, 2019), resulting in revenue growth year over year.
These apart, the carrier’s efforts to reward its shareholders through buybacks are commendable. Ryanair returned more than €560 million to its shareholders through this investor-friendly measure in fiscal 2019. Continuing with the trend, the carrier returned €250 million to its shareholders through buybacks in the first half of fiscal 2020. Ryanair’s efforts to repay debts apart from expanding its fleet size are encouraging as well.
The company's initiatives to expand operations are an added positive. Its acquisition of Malta Air — a start-up carrier — earlier this year, is an example in this respect. The buyout has strengthened the carrier’s foothold in Malta. The acquisition also allows Ryanair to operate flights from Malta to non-EU markets (North Africa).
Backed by these tailwinds, shares of Ryanair have outperformed its industry on a year-to-date basis. The stock has gained 15.8% compared with the industry’s 12.1% growth.
Zacks Rank & Other Key Picks
Ryanair carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Investors interested in the airline space may also consider Allegiant Travel Company (ALGT - Free Report) , Alaska Air Group, Inc. (ALK - Free Report) and Controladora Vuela Compañía de Aviación, S.A.B. de C.V. (VLRS - Free Report) . While Allegiant sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Alaska Air and Controladora Vuela carry a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Shares of Allegiant, Alaska Air and Controladora Vuela have rallied more than 69%, 11% and 90%, respectively, so far this year.
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