Alaska Air Group slides following downgrade

Alaska Air skids after analyst lowers rating, citing greater share price and more competition

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Alaska Air Group lost ground Tuesday after a Deutsche Bank analyst downgraded the stock, which has climbed about 75 percent over the last year.

THE SPARK: Deutsche Bank analyst Michael Linenberg lowered his rating to "Hold" from "Buy," as the shares are approaching his price target of $70. He said he is lowering his earnings expectations for the company in 2014 because there will be more flights and more competition in some of its biggest markets. He stated that Alaska Air is "one of the best run airlines" that he covers, but said right now, "we see better places to put new money."

Linenberg said overall, profits for airlines in the third quarter are looking stronger than he expected.

"Going into the last quarter of the fiscal year, we are seeing a continuation of strong revenue trends, a cooperative fuel price environment, and management teams more focused than ever on achieving their financial targets," he said.

THE BIG PICTURE: Alaska Air Group Inc. runs Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air. The company offers flights to 95 cities in Alaska, Hawaii, the continental U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It said Thursday that passengers flew 2.17 billion miles in September, up 5.5 percent from September 2012.

SHARE ACTION: Shares of Alaska Air Group declined $3.11, or 4.8 percent, to $61.51 in afternoon trading, after earlier trading as low at $61.08. The stock has climbed 74.9 percent over the last 12 months. In May the shares reached an all-time high of $68.

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