When it comes to investing in public equities, airline companies are currently enjoying a high level of popularity amongst billionaire investors. After gaining almost 100% on average in 2013, airline stocks once again beat the S&P500 by a large margin last year. Although the whole industry has been performing well, aided by the sharp reduction in fuel costs, shares of some these companies were particularly sought after last quarter. The five most popular airline stocks amongst billionaire investors and their respective hedge funds last quarter were: Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL), American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ:AAL), United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE:UAL), Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV), and Alaska Air Group, Inc. (NYSE:ALK).
Among the funds we track, more than 120 firms disclosed ownership of a stake in Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) last quarter, including billionaire Rob Citrone’s Discovery Capital Management, and 12 other billionaires. Citrone’s fund entered a new position in the company, disclosing a stake of 2.33 million shares in its last 13F filing. Considering the stock gained 81% last year, it comes as little surprise to see Mr. Citrone take a bullish stance towards Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL). Furthermore, the company reported fourth quarter earnings of $0.78 per share, beating the earnings consensus estimate for the eighth consecutive quarter. Given the current circumstances, it comes as no surprise that Delta is on the shopping list of numerous billionaire investors.
American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ:AAL) was also popular amongst billionaire investors last quarter, as the company that was formed by the merger between American Airlines and US Airways also had 13 billionaire investors with a total of $1.96 billion invested. Since the beginning of 2014 until the end of last week, the stock has gained around 104%, and was trading at $51.31 per share after Monday’s closing bell. Although the world’s largest global carrier delivered great returns last year, things might be different this quarter and the following. In addition to cutting projected first-quarter margins this month, American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ:AAL) has been downgraded to “hold” by numerous analysts. Nevertheless, billionaire George Soros seems optimistic, as his firm Soros Fund Management owns a stake of 3.27 million shares in the company. Rob Citrone also holds a position in American Airlines, which amounts to 2.64 million shares.