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Should Value Investors Consider Delta Air Lines (DAL) Stock?

Zacks Equity Research

Value investing is easily one of the most popular ways to find great stocks in any market environment. After all, who wouldn’t want to find stocks that are either flying under the radar and are compelling buys, or offer up tantalizing discounts when compared to fair value?

One way to find these companies is by looking at several key metrics and financial ratios, many of which are crucial in the value stock selection process. Let’s put Delta Air Lines, Inc. DAL stock into this equation and find out if it is a good choice for value-oriented investors right now, or if investors subscribing to this methodology should look elsewhere for top picks:

PE Ratio

A key metric that value investors always look at is the Price to Earnings Ratio, or PE for short. This shows us how much investors are willing to pay for each dollar of earnings in a given stock, and is easily one of the most popular financial ratios in the world. The best use of the PE ratio is to compare the stock’s current PE ratio with: a) where this ratio has been in the past; b) how it compares to the average for the industry/sector; and c) how it compares to the market as a whole.

On this front, Delta Air Lines has a trailing twelve months PE ratio of 12.2, as you can see in the chart below:

This level actually compares pretty favorably with the market at large, as the PE for the S&P 500 stands at about 22. If we focus on the long-term PE trend, Delta Air Lines’ current PE level puts it above its midpoint over the past five years.

Further, the stock’s PE also compares favorably with the Zacks Airlines industry’s trailing twelve months PE ratio, which stands at 13.5. At the very least, this indicates that the stock is relatively undervalued right now, compared to its peers.

We should also point out that Delta Air Lines has a forward PE ratio (price relative to this year’s earnings) of just 9.9, so it is fair to say that a slightly more value-oriented path may be ahead for Delta Air Lines stock in the near term too.

P/S Ratio

Another key metric to note is the Price/Sales ratio. This approach compares a given stock’s price to its total sales, where a lower reading is generally considered better. Some people like this metric more than other value-focused ones because it looks at sales, something that is far harder to manipulate with accounting tricks than earnings.

Right now, Delta Air Lines has a P/S ratio of about 1. This is a bit lower than the S&P 500 average, which comes in at 3.5x right now. Also, as we can see in the chart below, this is well below the highs for this stock in particular over the past few years, suggesting some level of undervalued trading—at least compared to historical norms.

Broad Value Outlook

In aggregate, Delta Air Lines currently has a Value Score of A putting it into the top 20% of all stocks we cover from this look. This makes Delta Air Lines a solid choice for value investors.

What About the Stock Overall?

Though Delta Air Lines might be a good choice for value investors, there are plenty of other factors to consider before investing in this name. In particular, it is worth noting that the company has a Growth Score of A and a Momentum Score of D. This gives DAL a Zacks VGM score — or its overarching fundamental grade — of A. (You can read more about the Zacks Style Scores here >>)

Meanwhile, the company’s recent earnings estimates have been pretty discouraging. The current quarter has seen no estimates go higher in the past sixty days compared to nine lower, while the full year estimate has seen no upward and 10 downward movements in the same time period.

This has had just a small impact on the consensus estimate though as the current quarter consensus estimate has fallen by 14.6% in the past two months, while the full year estimate has gone down by 3%. You can see the consensus estimate trend and recent price action for the stock in the chart below:

Delta Air Lines, Inc. Price and Consensus

Delta Air Lines, Inc. Price and Consensus | Delta Air Lines, Inc. Quote

The bearish trend is why the stock has just a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) and we are looking for in-line performance from the company in the near term.

Bottom Line

Delta Air Lines is an inspired choice for value investors, as it is hard to beat its incredible lineup of statistics on this front. Moreover, a strong industry rank (Top 30% out of more than 250 industries) further strengthens its growth potential.

So, value investors might want to wait for estimates and analyst sentiment to turn around in this name first, but once that happens, this stock could be a compelling pick.

Zacks Editor-in-Chief Goes "All In" on This Stock

Full disclosure, Kevin Matras now has more of his own money in one particular stock than in any other. He believes in its short-term profit potential and also in its prospects to more than double by 2019. Today he reveals and explains his surprising move in a new Special Report.

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