According to a report released by the U.K.-based aviation data firm — OAG — Delta Air Lines (DAL - Free Report) has emerged as the most punctual among leading U.S. carriers in 2019. Per OAG’s annual Punctuality League report, the on-time performance rating of this Atlanta, GA-based Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) carrier was 83.56% over the past 12 months. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Notably, the major U.S. carriers —Delta, American Airlines (AAL - Free Report) , Southwest Airlines (LUV - Free Report) and United Airlines (UAL - Free Report) — control most of the aviation market in the United States, following a spate of mergers. Southwest Airlines followed Delta in terms of punctuality among the above-mentioned carriers, followed by American Airlines and United Airlines, respectively.
However, Hawaiian Airlines — the wholly-owned subsidiary of Hawaiian Holdings (HA - Free Report) — emerged as the most punctual North American carrier in 2019, with an on-time performance rating of 87.4%.
Among the top 10 North American carriers, low-cost airline JetBlue Airways was the worst performer last year, in terms of punctuality with only 73.8% of its flights arriving on time.
Delta’s Solid Performance: Another Feather in the Cap
Delta put up a brilliant performance in 2019 backed by multiple tailwinds. As a result, shares of the company gained 17.2% in the year, outperforming its industry’s 13.4% gain.
Delta is aided by a healthy uptick in passenger revenues on the back of strong demand for air travel. Solid demand for air travel is fueling Delta’s passenger revenues, which account for the bulk of the company's top line. Evidently, passenger revenues increased 7% in the first nine months of 2019. The same is likely to have boosted the company’s fourth-quarter 2019 performance as well. Detailed results are scheduled to be released on Jan 14.
Delta expects 2019 earnings per share in the $6.75-$7.25 range, indicating a rise from the year-ago reported figure of $5.65. It projects revenues at $47 billion for 2019, implying a 7% rise year over year.
Moreover, in tune with its shareholder-friendly approach, Delta is likely to have returned approximately $3 billion to its shareholders in 2019 (at least 70% of free cash flow). The carrier’s continued efforts to expand operations are also noteworthy and are expected to drive its top line in the upcoming period. Additionally, as the carrier does not have Boeing 737 MAX jets in its fleet, it is immune to troubles that have arisen due to their prolonged groundings.
The impressive punctuality performance in 2019 is another positive for this company.
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