Is US Airways the Perfect Stock?

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Every investor would love to stumble upon the perfect stock. But will you ever really find a stock that provides everything you could possibly want?

One thing's for sure: You'll never discover truly great investments unless you actively look for them. Let's discuss the ideal qualities of a perfect stock, then decide if US Airways (NYS: LCC) fits the bill.

The quest for perfection
Stocks that look great based on one factor may prove horrible elsewhere, making due diligence a crucial part of your investing research. The best stocks excel in many different areas, including these important factors:

With those factors in mind, let's take a closer look at US Airways.

Factor

What We Want to See

Actual

Pass or Fail?

Growth5-year annual revenue growth > 15%6.2%Fail
 1-year revenue growth > 12%12.4%Pass
MarginsGross margin > 35%19.7%Fail
 Net margin > 15%1.9%Fail
Balance sheetDebt to equity < 50%7,118%Fail
 Current ratio > 1.30.99Fail
OpportunitiesReturn on equity > 15%NMNM
ValuationNormalized P/E < 206.33 Pass
DividendsCurrent yield > 2%0%Fail
 5-year dividend growth > 10%0%Fail
    
 Total Score 2 out of 9

Source: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's. NM = not meaningful due to negative shareholder equity. Total score = number of passes.

US Airways isn't flying high with a score of just two points. Despite a recent bounce, the airline has suffered greatly from turbulence that has affected the entire industry.

2010 was actually a strong year for airlines. Unprecedented levels of fee revenue added up to billions in profits for the industry, which had better earnings in the year's first nine months than in any full year in more than a decade.

But as has always happened in the past, those good times appear to be coming to an end. Fuel costs have risen by almost half over year-ago levels at US Airways, and margins will inevitably get hit as a result. In the first quarter, Delta Air Lines (NYS: DAL) , United Continental (NYS: UAL) , and AMR's (NYS: AMR) American all reported losses. Moreover, insiders appear to be jumping ship, with insider sales taking place across the industry without any buying activity.

It's true that some airlines, including Southwest (NYS: LUV) , JetBlue (NAS: JBLU) , and Alaska Air (NYS: ALK) , have managed to stay profitable despite these trends. But while US Airways isn't at the bottom of the barrel in the industry, it lacks loyalty among its customers. That's why despite encouraging revenue and traffic numbers for July, US Airways has seen its shares plummet so far this year.

Few airline stocks look anything close to perfect right now, and US Airways is no exception. You'd do well to follow Warren Buffett's advice and steer clear of the airline sector right now.

Keep searching
No stock is a sure thing, but some stocks are a lot closer to perfect than others. By looking for the perfect stock, you'll go a long way toward improving your investing prowess and learning how to separate out the best investments from the rest.

Click hereto add US Airways to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

Finding the perfect stock is only one piece of a successful investment strategy. Get the big picture by taking a look at our13 Steps to Investing Foolishly.

At the time this article was published Fool contributorDan Caplingerdoesn't own shares of the companies mentioned in this article.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Southwest Airlines. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool has adisclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read Full Story

Want more news like this?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from business news to personal finance tips delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners