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The S&P’s 10 Best Stocks of 2013 Through Q3

A look at 2013's best runs, turnarounds and lucky breaks

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#5: Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines DALIndustry: Airlines
Year-to-Date Returns: 102%

Airline stocks are tough investments. The industry is characterized by regular bankruptcies, expensive pension costs, high regulation that limits the agility of airlines and broader economic headwinds that have kept consumers and business travelers a bit more grounded than in years past.

However, one airline’s pain is another airline’s opportunity, and as American Airlines (AAMRQ) grapples with bankruptcy and pins its hopes on a merger with US Airways (LCC), Delta Air Lines (DAL) has been allowed an opportunity to show its stuff.

Delta is one of the better-run airlines (at least from a balance sheet perspective — no gripes about customer service, please) and in fiscal 2013 could see four times the profits it saw in 2010 should projections hold.

New money probably can’t look forward to the same upside as Delta has seen in 2013, but the improvement DAL has seen this year is likely to stick after the company has adapted to the current market environment.

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