Reese: Skies Friendly Again for (Some) Airlines

While the airline industry has been fraught with bankruptcies throughout its history, Validea CEO John Reese says things have been looking up for some airlines stocks.

“Since the start of 2009, airline bankruptcies have fallen sharply,” Reese writes  his latest Seeking Alpha column. “Yes, some of that likely has to do with the ultra low interest rates created by the Federal Reserve, which may well have allowed marginal firms to skirt bankruptcy — the average debt/equity ratio in the industry is more than 350%. But part of it is simply due to better performance by a lot of these airlines. Creative marketing, economies-of-scale-creating mergers, new (albeit annoying) methods of generating revenue (I’m looking at you, bag fees) — all of this has helped a number of airlines turn things around.”

Reese says a number of duds remain in the industry, so investors should be selective with airline stocks. He uses his Guru Strategies, which are based on the approaches of history’s most successful investors, to find some fundamentally sound airlines. Among those he highlights: Alaska Air.