Have you gotten aboard the airline stocks yet? Spirit Airlines, Inc. (SAVE) recently announced better-than-expected results for its fourth quarter. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is expected to post another year of double digit earnings growth.
Spirit Airlines operates a low-cost airlines based on ultra-low base fares which allows customers to buy the extras they value. The company has a $9 Fare Club program that costs $59.95 per year but gives customers access to special low fares and deals on baggage fees.
Spirit operates about 250 flights to 50 destinations in the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America. It is one of the few airlines offering service from the United States to the expanding markets of Panama and Colombia.
Strong Guidance for Q4 2013
On Jan 15, Spirit announced guidance for the fourth quarter which was ahead of Wall Street estimates due to strong leisure travel around the holidays.
Unit revenue rose 3% year over year, beating expectations of just 2%.
Spirit will also add 11 A320s aircraft to its fleet in 2014, up from its previous guidance of 7 planes. It is essentially pulling forward plane delivery from 2015 so deliveries in 2015 will fall by 4 planes.
Capacity will grow by 17%, up from analysts' prior expectations of 15%.
Zacks Consensus Estimates for 2013 and 2014 Rise
The analysts liked what they heard in the fourth quarter guidance because 2 estimates were raised in the last week for both 2013 and 2014.
The 2013 Zacks Consensus Estimate jumped to $2.33 from $2.30 in that time. That's earnings growth of 63%.
The earnings growth is expected to continue into 2014. The 2014 Zacks Consensus Estimate rose to $2.80 from $2.77 over the last 7 days which is EPS growth of another 20%.
Shares At New Highs
Spirit isn't expected to report earnings until February, but shares have hit new all-time highs on the positive guidance and the bullishness in the industry.
It also has a good earnings surprise track record. The company hasn't missed since it went IPO in 2011.
Even though shares are soaring, valuations aren't outrageous. It has a forward P/E of 17.9.
With its big earnings growth combined with its P/E, it has a PEG ratio of just 0.6. A PEG under 1.0 indicates a company has both growth AND value. That's a rare combination.
For investors looking for a way to play the low-cost airlines, Spirit is one to keep on the short list.
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