2015 All-America Research Team: Airlines, No. 3: Hunter Keay
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2015 All-America Research Team: Airlines, No. 3: Hunter Keay


Wolfe Research’s Hunter Keay repeats in third place.

< The 2015 All-America Research Team


Hunter Keay

Wolfe Research

First-place appearances: 0

Total appearances: 4

Analyst debut: 2012

Wolfe Research’s Hunter Keay repeats in third place. In January he pegged Allegiant Travel Co. as an outperformer, boosting his rating on the Las Vegas–based provider of ultralow-cost travel services from peer perform. In addition to operating more cheaply than large carriers, the 37-year-old analyst reasons, Allegiant serves a neglected niche market of smaller airports, where the airplane seat counts entering or leaving has been down over the past three years, while the opposite trend has held true for major airports. By the middle of last month, the shares had soared 40.3 percent, to $218.90, while U.S. airlines slipped 3.6 percent. The researcher believes that fundamentals support a price of $234. “Hunter’s product is consistently thought-provoking,” observes one buy-side counterpart, “and he’s never afraid to make the hard calls.” Keay also continues to tout Forth Worth, Texas’ American Airlines Group, the world’s largest airline, in part on his belief that markets are underappreciating the upside potential for its enhanced share-repurchase program. Management doubled the scheme to $4 billion in July thanks to a combination of a subdued stock and record high earnings on the back of oil price weakness. At $65, his price objective for American Airlines represents a 49.5 percent premium to its value in mid-September.

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