Thursday, September 4, 2008

Continental Airlines: Oil Spike Not Over, Stock To $9. Or $45. Whatever (CAL)

We last visited Credit Suisse's airline analysts on August 13, keeping tabs on one of the most untimely calls I've ever seen. In "How (not) to Do Stock Price Forecasting- Credit Suisse Edition"
...The point is, fundamental analysis will help you avoid disaster but it doesn't forecast prices.
Thirty days ago Daniel McKenzie, airline analyst at Credit Suisse, cut his outperform ratings on Continental and American Airlines to neutral, after they had declined from $37.79 to $6.74 and $51.60 to $3.43 respectively.

The next day they bottomed out and are up 160% and 270% in the last thirty days.
So working at a big firm doesn't really help....
That post was a follow-up to July 22nd's "Ahem... US Airways and UAL are Up... (LCC; UAUA)"
...56 and 57%, today. One of our loyal readers may be in the money in the "CNBC Million Dollar Challenge" because of "Dear CFTC: About those Oil Markets. And: A Stock Tip".
We'll be setting up a PayPal account to celebrate his good fortune should he walk with any GE loot.

On the other hand, this untimely bastard may be out of a job. First he waits for the stocks to drop 90% before changing his ratings, then, well it doesn't get any worse (Monday, July 14, 2008):...
Which was itself a follow-up to our July 14 post, "Ahead of the Bell: Credit Suisse cuts airlines (AAI: ALK; CAL; UAUA)"
...The other two have similar trajectories, I'll stick with Dear CFTC: About those Oil Markets. And: A Stock Tip.
Today ClusterStock gives us the update:
How often does an analyst have a Neutral rating on a stock when his/her price target is 50% below the stock price? When the analyst covers airlines.

Credit Suisse has reiterated its $9 target price on Continental Airlines (CAL), whose stock currently sits above $18. The analyst also thinks the stock could suddenly jump to $45. The bank's thesis is essentially that the oil crash is temporary and therefore to adjust the rating or target would be speculative:

Given macro volatility, our rating is temporarily misaligned with the downside to our PT [price target], tho the recent run in shares is consistent w/ our 7/30/08 trade alert where we pointed out that significant short term (i.e. 1-2 month) upside was likely given falling crude prices. We pointed out that under the scenario where crude prices fell to $100 thru 2009, we pointed out CAL could fetch $45/share (vs $14.21 at the time of our alert & $17.84 today). Our $9 PT is based on CAL's EV trading at 7.5x our 09E EBITDAR; we model crude at $130 in 2009 and believe it's too early to revise ests. given WTI volatility, tho will revisit soon....MORE

Sometimes you get wrong-footed and it is really hard to get back in synch.