Among industrial service providers, is there anything uglier than the airliners? Month after month, several names within the sector are plagued with underperformance, both in their financial statements as well as in the markets — where it really counts for current shareholders and potential investors. It seems that anything involving wings this year has already skidded to a halt or will otherwise be doomed.
Take for example the airliner-centric exchange-traded fund U.S. Global Jets ETF (NYSEARCA:JETS), as of yet the only such ETF in existence for the domestic markets. Since its inception a few months ago on May 1, JETS is down -2.51% after a series of wickedly choppy trading. Speculators climbing aboard the initial public offering seem less-than-impressed, given that volume for JETS shares jumped just shy of 900,000 on May 27, but is currently piddling along at under 30,000 shares trading hands. Unless sentiment dramatically reverses, JETS will be a zombie-ETF before long.
The problem is most pronounced in discount leaders like Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE:LUV) and Spirit Airlines Inc. (NASDAQ:SAVE). Such companies’ management teams have attempted to squeeze as many passengers into each flight as is humanly — or perhaps ethically — possible. The increase in profitability margin may be offset, though, by the consumer experience. Flying has become an increasingly miserable experience and frequent passengers may find the benefit of paying more for not having to deal with the uncivil behavior that can permeate from cheapo airliners.
Spirit Airlines in particular looks especially vulnerable to a correction, even though it has already suffered deeply in the markets. SAVE stock is down more than -20% on a year-to-date basis, much of that taking place due to an ugly drop in valuation at the end of April. Since then, shares have entered a steep declining trend channel. In fact, the best the bulls have managed during this time period was to move the price action sideways in a consolidation pattern.
However, the gap down for SAVE stock that occurred earlier this week on July 14 is especially worrying. The loss of market value — almost 7.5% in one day — signals that current shareholders are panicking out of their position. Tellingly, the bulls response after the gap down was quite mediocre, recovering only 2.3% of value by the close of market on July 17. To state the obvious, this is not something that would endear well to people with a vested interest in Spirit Airlines.
The lonely series of trades since the July 14 gap down also puts SAVE stock in a technical no-man’s-land. There’s no real buying support until the $55 price range, which is almost a 9% drop from current prices. Could existing shareholders resist the urge to panic? Probably not. The bottom line for SAVE is that the bulls need to come up with some buying pressure fast; otherwise, it could be a precipitous fall for this discount airliner.