Analysts Think This Airline Stock has Over 60% Upside Potential - InvestingChannel

Analysts Think This Airline Stock has Over 60% Upside Potential

We recently published a list of the 10 Best Airline Stocks to Buy For 2024. Since Copa Holdings, S.A. (NYSE:CPA) ranks 7th in the list, it deserves a deeper look.

Despite rising inflation, consumers worldwide continue to spend on travel and experiences, defying all expectations and forecasts. Latest data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the airline industry is expected to generate $30.5 billion in net income in 2024, driven by higher ticket prices and consumers’ desire to travel. Last year, the industry’s net income came in at $27.4 billion. According to data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) the economic impact of the travel industry this year is expected to soar to $11.1 trillion, beating its precious level of $10 trillion recorded in 2019. The Council expects the tourism industry to become a $16 trillion industry over the next decade, accounting for about 11.4% of the global GDP.

However, not all is rosy in the airline industry. The competition in the industry is increasing, while geopolitical headwinds and rising employee costs continue to batter small and large airline companies. IATA was quick to highlight that despite the industry growth, airlines’ profit per passenger is just $6.14. Travel demand in China also remains subdued amid real estate and economic crisis in the country. However, analysts believe sooner or later the country would rebound and the best airline and travel companies would benefit from the influx of Chinese tourists.

 A KPMG report on the airline industry highlighted the resilience of the airline industry and its fast recovery to pre-pandemics levels:

“The latest air travel data from IATA shows that passenger travel for November 2023 globally has reached 99.1% of November 2019 levels. November 2023 international RPKs reached 94.5% of November 2019 levels, while domestic traffic was 6.7% above the November 2019 level. Although international global travel remains 5.5% below pre-pandemic levels, IATA director general Willie Walsh said that the gap is “rapidly closing”, adding that current “economic headwinds are not deterring people from taking to the skies”. IATA also noted that long-term airline profitability shows that while the industry is exposed to external shocks, it typically returns to profitability “relatively quickly”.”

In this backdrop, we decided to take a look at some of the best airline stocks to buy in 2024 according to hedge funds. For that we first listed down all holdings of an airline ETF, which provides investors exposure to the airline industry and tracks some of the biggest and most important airlines and aviation companies of the US and worldwide. From these stocks we chose 10 companies with the highest number of hedge fund investors. Why are we interested in the stocks that hedge funds pile into? The reason is simple: our research has shown that we can outperform the market by imitating the top stock picks of the best hedge funds. Our quarterly newsletter’s strategy selects 14 small-cap and large-cap stocks every quarter and has returned 275% since May 2014, beating its benchmark by 150 percentage points (see more details here).

Is Copa Holdings, S.A. (NYSE:CPA) the Best Airline Stock to Buy For 2024?

Copa Holdings, S.A. (NYSE:CPA)

Number of Hedge Fund Investors: 26

Panama-based airline company Copa Holdings, S.A. (NYSE:CPA) owns Copa Airlines and Colombia-based AeroRepública. Last month the company beat Q1 estimates on both EPS and revenue. Adjusted EPS in the quarter came in at $4.19, beating estimates by $0.86. Revenue in the quarter jumped 3% year over year to $893.5 million, beating estimates by $21.74 million. In April, the company’s capacity (ASMs) increased by 9.6%, while system-wide passenger traffic (RPMs) surged 11.2% on a YoY basis.

Copa Holdings, S.A. (NYSE:CPA) has impressed the Wall Street amid its smart expense management despite a tough industry environment.  During the first quarter, the company’s operating expenses inched up by just 0.5% amid lower maintenance costs.  Unit costs also declined by 6.9%, and by 2% excluding fuel costs. Operating margins also increased from 22.3% to 24.2%. Analysts believe Copa Holdings, S.A. (NYSE:CPA) margins would have been over 30% had it not suffered the impact of the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 9 which cost the airline around $44 million.

Wall Street expects Copa’s earnings growth to come in at 9.60% in 2024 and revenue growth to come in at 8.50%. Its forward P/E ratio is 6.39, much lower than industry median of 21. The stock’s forward EV / EBITDA (FWD) is 4.18, compared to the industry median of 11. Wall Street analysts have an average price target of $158.54 on the stock, which presents a 62% upside potential from the current levels.

Overall, Copa Holdings, S.A. (NYSE:CPA) ranks 7th on Insider Monkey’s list of 10 Best Airline Stocks to Buy For 2024. You can visit 10 Best Airline Stocks to Buy For 2024 to see other stocks in the list. While we acknowledge the potential of Copa Holdings, S.A. (NYSE:CPA), our conviction lies in the belief that AI stocks hold greater promise for delivering higher returns, and doing so within a shorter timeframe. If you are looking for an AI stock that is more promising than Copa Holdings, S.A. (NYSE:CPA) but that trades at less than 5 times its earnings, check out our report about the cheapest AI stock.

READ NEXT: Michael Burry Is Selling These Stocks and Jim Cramer is Recommending These Stocks.

Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.

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