This regional airline can rally more than 30% as pilot hiring trends improve, Raymond James says


Raymond James says that SkyWest shares will continue to rise as pilot recruitment becomes easier. Analyst Savanthi Syth raised the regional airline’s price target to $55 from market perform. Her price target represents a 32.9% increase from the close on Wednesday. Syth wrote in a client note on Thursday that SKYW was one of the top performing airline stocks YTD. “This reflects a significantly improved fundamental position compared to the start of the year, with the successful transfer to partners of substantially higher pilot costs as well as the stabilization of Captain supply trends.” The stock is up more than 150% in the past year. Airlines covered by Raymond James have only gained 14%. In Thursday’s premarket trading, shares rose 2.7%. Mountain SkyWest, YTD – SKYW. Since the first quarter this year, the Utah-based carrier has seen an improvement in pilot attrition rates. SkyWest was also able to convince partners to absorb the costs associated with higher rates. Syth said that the mainline capacity for 2024 has been trending lower than expected because of supply chain challenges and demand plateaus, as well as rising fuel costs. She added that this can help to mitigate the problem of finding enough captains when target levels are reset within the next 12-18 months. She also stated that revenue drags in 2023 may turn into benefits in 2024. SkyWest will reach core earnings per seat of 55%, 60%, and 75% respectively in 2023 2024 2025. The airline may see an increase in earnings if the captain level improves, if the chart business grows, or based on market share. Syth warned that despite reasons for optimism, share performance may be negatively affected if the pilot supply fix doesn’t go as planned, if charter business falters, or if a fleet sunsets faster than expected. Michael Bloom, a CNBC reporter, contributed to this article.