Alaska Air Group (ALK) Lifted to “Hold” at Zacks Investment Research

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

According to Zacks, “Alaska Air Group's efforts to expand its worldwide operations raise optimism on the stock. The company aims for top-line growth by introducing new routes to attract more traffic. Its attempts to reward shareholders through dividends and share buybacks are also impressive. This January, the company announced a 9.4% hike in its quarterly dividend. As far as buybacks are concerned, the company repurchased 776,186 shares for approximately $50 million in 2018. Alaska Air Group's measures to reduce debt levels are also encouraging. However, shares of the company have lost almost 12% in a year. High operating expenses are restricting bottom-line growth. As has been the case over the last few quarters, high costs are likely to hurt earnings in first-quarter 2019 as well. Non-fuel unit costs are envisioned to increase approximately 3% in the soon-to-be-reported quarter. Detailed results should be out on Apr 25.”

Other equities analysts also recently issued reports about the stock. Credit Suisse Group set a $76.00 price objective on shares of Alaska Air Group and gave the stock a “buy” rating in a research note on Friday, April 12th. Buckingham Research reduced their price objective on shares of Alaska Air Group from $88.00 to $80.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a research note on Friday, March 8th. TheStreet downgraded shares of Alaska Air Group from a “b-” rating to a “c” rating in a research note on Thursday, January 24th. Vertical Research started coverage on shares of Alaska Air Group in a research note on Monday, February 4th. They set a “hold” rating for the company. Finally, ValuEngine upgraded shares of Alaska Air Group from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Monday, April 1st. Eight research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, eight have assigned a buy rating and two have given a strong buy rating to the company. The stock currently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $76.03.

Shares of Alaska Air Group stock traded up $0.31 during trading hours on Tuesday, reaching $60.61. 418,329 shares of the company’s stock were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 1,691,417. Alaska Air Group has a fifty-two week low of $53.39 and a fifty-two week high of $74.83. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.43, a current ratio of 0.61 and a quick ratio of 0.59. The company has a market cap of $7.51 billion, a price-to-earnings ratio of 13.59, a P/E/G ratio of 0.71 and a beta of 0.81.

Alaska Air Group (NYSE:ALK) last posted its quarterly earnings data on Thursday, January 24th. The transportation company reported $0.75 EPS for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $0.73 by $0.02. Alaska Air Group had a net margin of 5.29% and a return on equity of 15.20%. The company had revenue of $2.06 billion during the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.06 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business posted $0.83 EPS. The company’s quarterly revenue was up 6.3% on a year-over-year basis. As a group, sell-side analysts expect that Alaska Air Group will post 6.05 earnings per share for the current year.

In other news, VP Christopher Michael Berry sold 750 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Wednesday, February 13th. The shares were sold at an average price of $67.14, for a total value of $50,355.00. Following the sale, the vice president now directly owns 1,233 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $82,783.62. The sale was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through the SEC website. Also, VP Brandon Pedersen sold 4,026 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction dated Friday, March 1st. The shares were sold at an average price of $62.00, for a total transaction of $249,612.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 26,524 shares in the company, valued at $1,644,488. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last ninety days, insiders sold 8,776 shares of company stock worth $551,687. 0.43% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of the company. Vanguard Group Inc raised its holdings in Alaska Air Group by 1.1% in the 3rd quarter. Vanguard Group Inc now owns 12,380,127 shares of the transportation company’s stock valued at $852,494,000 after acquiring an additional 130,958 shares during the period. BlackRock Inc. raised its holdings in Alaska Air Group by 1.6% in the 4th quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 7,031,099 shares of the transportation company’s stock valued at $427,843,000 after acquiring an additional 113,985 shares during the period. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP raised its holdings in Alaska Air Group by 21.2% in the 4th quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 2,883,681 shares of the transportation company’s stock valued at $175,468,000 after acquiring an additional 503,977 shares during the period. Geode Capital Management LLC raised its holdings in Alaska Air Group by 9.8% in the 4th quarter. Geode Capital Management LLC now owns 1,858,086 shares of the transportation company’s stock valued at $112,942,000 after acquiring an additional 165,833 shares during the period. Finally, Diamond Hill Capital Management Inc. raised its holdings in Alaska Air Group by 16.6% in the 4th quarter. Diamond Hill Capital Management Inc. now owns 1,677,280 shares of the transportation company’s stock valued at $102,062,000 after acquiring an additional 238,368 shares during the period. 88.30% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Alaska Air Group Company Profile

Alaska Air Group, Inc, through its subsidiaries, provides passenger and cargo air transportation services. The company operates through three segments: Mainline, Regional, and Horizon. It has a network of approximately 1,200 daily flights to 115 destinations across the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Costa Rica.

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