The falling oil prices are providing airline stocks, along with related transportation sector exchange traded funds, an unexpected tailwind.
While there are no airline-specific ETFs on the market, the iShares Transportation Average ETF (NYSEArca: IYT) and the SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (NYSEArca: XTN) both provide airline industry exposure without the commitment or risks of a single stock. IYT has a 14.2% allocation toward airliners while XTN includes a 24.9% weight in airlines.
IYT was up 1.4% Monday while XTN gained 2.1%. Year-to-date, IYT increased 12.8% and XTN rose 14.1%.
Shares of American Airlines (NasdaqGS: AAL), United Continental (NYSE: UAL), Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) and Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) increased over 3.0% Monday. IYT has a 3.2% position in DAL and 2.8% in LUV. XTN includes UAL 2.6%, DAL 2.4%, LUV 2.8% and AAL 2.4%.
Interactive Brokers’ Andrew Wilkinson argues that the cheaper oil prices are lifting airline stocks, reports Ben Levisohn for Barron’s.
“Growing acceptance of lesser impact on investors at the doorstep of geopolitical tension combined with abundant supplies of crude oil have sparked happier times for airline stocks,” Wilkinson said in the article.
Airlines that cut their oil hedges this year are benefiting from falling prices. Jet fuel represents the single largest variable cost in the airline industry. Without the hedge, airlines are at greater risk of losing money if prices were to spike in the second half of the year. [Another ETF Option for Airline Stocks]
Nevertheless, the International Energy Agency expects oil prices to remain subdued as the world swims in a well-supplied market. [Poor Fundamentals Drag Down Oil ETFs]