More Room For Growth In JetBlue Stock?

by Trefis Team
JetBlue Airways
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The $25 billion payroll support under the CARES Act supported the Airline Industry and avoided mass furloughs. However, the ongoing slump continues to weigh on air travel demand as carriers operate at 50% of their capacity and TSA checkpoint numbers remain 60% below the prior year level. JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU) observed only $223 million of operating cash outflow for the first nine months due to the CARES Act grant. Considering another $15 billion pandemic aid package for airlines, Trefis believes the $1.6 billion drop in the company’s market capitalization looks unwarranted. Our interactive dashboard highlights JetBlue Airways stock performance during the current crisis with that during the 2008 recession.

2020 Coronavirus Crisis

Timeline of 2020 Crisis So Far:

  • 12/12/2019: Coronavirus cases first reported in China
  • 1/31/2020: WHO declares a global health emergency.
  • 2/19/2020: Signs of effective containment in China and hopes of monetary easing by major central banks helps S&P 500 reach a record high
  • 3/23/2020: S&P 500 drops 34% from the peak level seen on Feb 19, as Covid-19 cases accelerate outside China. Doesn’t help that oil prices crash in mid-March amid Saudi-led price war
  • From 3/24/2020: S&P 500 recovers 65% from the lows seen on Mar 23, as the Fed’s multi-billion dollar stimulus package suppresses near-term survival anxiety and infuses liquidity into the system.

In contrast, here’s how JBLU and the broader market performed during the 2007/2008 crisis.

Timeline of 2007-08 Crisis

  • 10/1/2007: Approximate pre-crisis peak in S&P 500 index
  • 9/1/2008 – 10/1/2008: Accelerated market decline corresponding to Lehman bankruptcy filing (9/15/08)
  • 3/1/2009: Approximate bottoming out of S&P 500 index
  • 12/31/2009: Initial recovery to levels before accelerated decline (around 9/1/2008)

JetBlue Airways vs S&P 500 Performance Over 2007-08 Financial Crisis

JBLU stock declined from levels of around $9 in October 2007 (pre-crisis peak) to levels of around $4 in March 2009 (as the markets bottomed out). However, the stock gained significantly post-2008 crisis to levels of about $5.50 in early 2010 – rising by 43% between March 2009 and January 2010. In comparison, the S&P 500 Index first fell 51% in the wake of the recession before recovering 48% by January 2010.

JetBlue Airways’ Fundamentals in Recent Years Look Stable

JetBlue Airways’ Revenues grew by 15% from $7 billion in 2017 to $8.1 billion in 2019, supported by capacity growth and ticket prices. However, the company’s margins deteriorated due to higher fuel expenses and administrative costs. Thus, the EPS decreased by 45% from $3.47 in 2017 to $1.92 in 2019. In Q3 2020, the company’s revenues fell by 76% (y-o-y) as the capacity (ASMs) dropped by 58% and the passenger load factor plummeted to 42.6%.

Does JetBlue Airways Have A Sufficient Cash Cushion To Meet Its Obligations Through The Coronavirus Crisis?

JetBlue Airways total debt increased from $1.8 billion in 2017 to $4.8 billion at the end of Q3 2020, while its total cash also surged from $1 billion to $2.9 billion over the same period. Considering a daily cash burn rate of $5 million, the company is in a good position to weather the crisis for more than a year.


Phases of Covid-19 crisis:

  • Early- to mid-March 2020: Fear of the coronavirus outbreak spreading rapidly translates into reality, with the number of cases accelerating globally
  • Late-March 2020 onward: Social distancing measures + lockdowns
  • April 2020: Fed stimulus suppresses near-term survival anxiety
  • May-June 2020: Recovery of demand, with gradual lifting of lockdowns – no panic anymore despite a steady increase in the number of cases
  • July-November 2020: Weak Q2 and Q3 results, but continued improvement in demand and progress with vaccine development buoy market sentiment

Another round of payroll support for the airline industry, a sizable reduction in cash burn rate, and the launch of a successful vaccine are the key triggers for an upside in JetBlue Airways stock.

What if you’re looking for a more balanced portfolio instead? Here’s a high quality portfolio to beat the market, with over 100% return since 2016, versus 55% for the S&P 500. Comprised of companies with strong revenue growth, healthy profits, lots of cash, and low risk, it has outperformed the broader market year after year, consistently.

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