Now is not a great time to be invested in the airline industry. Companies like United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. And recent news about United Airlines stock has been mixed.
On the one hand, United Airlines stock is trading higher than it was in March and April. The company is adding more summer flights to its schedule and passengers are starting to fly once again. The company’s debt offering also saw a positive reaction.
But the coronavirus doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and rising cases in several states has many people worried that the U.S. is headed for another round of shutdowns. Let’s look at three pros and three cons of investing in United Airlines stock.
3 Pros for UAL Stock
Airlines Passengers are Starting to Return: The good news for American Airlines is that it seems to have hit its bottom in March and April. The company is slowly adding summer flights to its schedule, and airline passengers are starting to return.
And United seems to be taking a more measured approach than some of the other airlines companies. In July, the company plans to increase its flight schedule to roughly 25% of what it was in July 2019.
The company is doing what it can to reassure worried airline passengers. United Airlines asks passengers to complete a health self-assessment before checking in for their flight.
And the company is cracking down on mask requirements. United recently announced that it would require all passengers to wear a mask, and ban any customers that don’t follow this protocol.
There’s Good News About Possible Coronavirus Treatments: There has been some good news when it comes to possible coronavirus treatments. Researchers in England recently announced that they’ve seen promising results from a corticosteroid called dexamethasone.
The study showed that the drug reduces inflammation and the number of deaths in severely ill patients. In patients who needed a ventilator, dexamethasone reduced the death rate by a third. There was no noticeable benefit to patients who didn’t require a ventilator.
Of course, the study still requires further scrutiny, but the findings seem promising. And this kind of good news is going to go a long way toward easing people’s concerns about engaging in activities like flying.
The Company’s Balance Sheet Should Sustain It for Now: United Airlines expects to have $17 billion of available liquidity by the end of the third quarter. The company also expects to receive an additional $4.5 billion from the CARES Act. And the larger-than-expected debt offering doesn’t hurt.
Also, the company has taken aggressive steps to cut its expenses, including selling 22 planes to Bank of China Aviation. All of these steps should ensure that the company has enough cash on hand to at least make it until the fall.
3 Cons of United Airlines Stock
United Airlines Relies Heavily on Business and International Travel: It’s encouraging to see that United is adding flights to its summer schedule. And in the coming months, people may start to feel more comfortable with the idea of flying.
But United relies heavily on international and business travel for its source of revenue. And unfortunately, there are no signs that either will be returning to pre-pandemic levels anytime soon. That means United could take longer to recover than some of the other airlines.
The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Not Over: The ongoing fear surrounding the novel coronavirus is not going away anytime soon. While there seems to be good news about potential treatments and the possibility of a vaccine, the number of U.S. cases is still rising in many cities.
And increasingly, many people fear that a second wave of the virus will hit in the fall. If that happens, it could wipe out any previous gains the airlines industry has made.
Recovery Will Be Slow: United Airlines stock has close to doubled from its 52-week low in mid-March. But that doesn’t mean that investors are feeling confident about the stock.
United Airlines is still down over 60% year-to-date, and the stock will likely continue to be turbulent in the months to come. It seems likely that the company will be able to weather this pandemic. But when it does emerge, it will have more debt and be in a weaker position financially.
It will likely take years for United Airlines to return to its previous profitability. For that reason, new investors should hold off on buying shares of United Airlines and consider other investment opportunities.
Jamie Johnson is a personal finance freelance writer and has been writing for InvestorPlace since mid-2019. She writes for a number of other well-known financial sites, including Credit Karma, Quicken Loans, and Bankrate. As of this writing, Jamie Johnson did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.