HomeMarket NewsThe Turbulent Sky: Will Spirit Airlines Weather the Storm?

The Turbulent Sky: Will Spirit Airlines Weather the Storm?

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A seasoned analyst at Barclays has cast a shadow over Spirit Airlines (NYSE: SAVE) by reinstating coverage with a pessimistic price target of $4 alongside an β€œunderweight” rating. The figure looms ominously, standing over 17% below the current share price.

Storm Clouds Gather for Spirit Airlines

With the recent collapse of merger talks with JetBlue, Spirit Airlines finds itself grappling with a myriad of challenges in the harsh climate of 2024. The tempestuous landscape is undoubtedly treacherous, with debt-laden balance sheets and elusive profitability casting a dark shadow over the company’s future prospects.

The ripple effects of the pandemic-induced turbulence have left many airlines, including Spirit, gasping for breath in a cash-strapped environment. Investor confidence wavers as the company’s history of cash outflows and feeble profitability raise doubts about its ability to rein in the ominous debt burden looming ahead.

SAVE Free Cash Flow Chart

SAVE Free Cash Flow data by YCharts

Turbulence in the Engines

As the economy hits turbulence and operational costs soar, budget airlines like Spirit are caught in the crosswinds. Compounding its troubles, Spirit faces engine woes with its entire fleet comprising Airbus aircraft. The grounding of Airbus planes due to issues with Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan (GTF) engines has not only disrupted operations but also plunged the airline deeper into the abyss of financial uncertainty.

Historically, the aviation industry has seen many casualties, with bankruptcies and shareholder disappointments as recurring themes. In times of distress, the safety net for debt holders often lies in the security of tangible assets like aircraft. Should the worst come to pass, these planes can be liquidated, leaving equity investors at the mercy of debtholders in the unforgiving terrain of bankruptcy proceedings.

While there is a glimmer of hope for Spirit Airlines to navigate through the storm, the high-risk, high-return nature of the investment makes it a perilous path for most. An β€œunderweight” rating on the stock, essentially a tacit β€œsell” advice, appears justified in light of the prevailing circumstances.

Is Spirit Airlines the Right Investment for You?

Before taking the plunge into Spirit Airlines stock, take heed:

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*Data as of March 25, 2024, from Stock Advisor

Lee Samaha has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Barclays. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The expressions and opinions outlined in this text are solely those of the author and do not necessarily mirror the stance of Nasdaq, Inc.

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