Airline stocks and the U.S. Global Jets ETF (NYSEArca: JETS), the only dedicated airline industry-related ETF on the market, have recently been stout performers, a pleasant surprise when considering oil was one of 2016’s best-performing commodities.
JETS follows the U.S. Global Jets Index, which uses fundamental screens to select airline companies, with an emphasis on domestic carriers, along with global aircraft manufacturers and airport companies. After decades of being known as a low-yielding sector, airlines are starting to become more generous with shareholder rewards and that could be another catalyst for JETS this year.
Most of the handful of airlines that do pay dividends have been steadily increasing them in recent years, a reflection of the industry’s improving health after years of bankruptcy filings, ballooning debt, and unsound pricing discipline. For one thing, the industry’s balance sheet is much improved, leaving more cash flow available to pay dividends and repurchase shares,” reports Lawrence Strauss for Barron’s.
Airlines’ impressive ability to generate cash is one reason Warren Buffett shook off his long-standing aversion to the sector and recently unveiled stakes in several of the top holdings in JETS.
Now, with Warren Buffett’s investment of over $1.2 billion into American Airlines, United Continental Holdings, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines, airline stocks are taking flight. The move was a shocking reversal for Buffet, whom has shunned the industry for decades following a volatile investment in U.S. Airways in 1989.