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Alaska Air Group (ALK) - Icarus Rising II, Quo Vadis?

March 20, 2013 | About:

Following my recent article, "Air Alaska Group (ALK) - Icarus Rising," the expected decline failed to set in with the stock continuing its upsurge unabated.

In the light of this continued rise and additional bullish calls it would seem that my initial analysis of the stock and my conclusion have been incorrect, and therefore I have had to reconsider my earlier assessment and short rationale.

Icarus seems bound to rewrite his own history in that this time he will actually reach the sun and beyond, completely unharmed.

Therefore the conclusion for me is to rescind my earlier bearish call on this stock and become decidedly bullish, urging investors to back up the truck with this highly promising stock.

All ratings agencies and the media coverage and last but not least the forever surging price all go to confirm my new conviction.

"When the facts or change, I change my mind," is a famous quote by John Maynard Keynes.

Not so fast. I was just kidding!

As mentioned earlier, the stock is now in the very final stage of an unprecedented exponential upsurge.

A look at stock market history, comparisons with industry peers and other high-flying success stories will help keep things in perspective and your mind keenly fixed on the prize.

Case in point: Netflix (NFLX)!

Supported by strong financials, spectacular top and bottom line growth, soaring subscriber numbers and its unique business model, the stock had been on a tear with share price appreciation accelerating sharply from January 2010 onwards.

Yet in a daring contrarian stance, prominent hedge fund heavy hitter Whitney Tilson had made NFLX his fund's biggest bearish bet, supporting it with a well-founded compelling short thesis

However, what happened only two months later was really puzzling indeed.

In February 2011, following the announcement of yet another record quarter by NFLX, Tilson made an abrupt about face and, quoting Sir Maynard Keynes (above quote), openly renounced his bearish stance.

While covering his huge short position he made it clear at the same time that he was not recommending the stock either and in doing so left investors somehow in limbo about the action they should take following his important move.

What had precipitated his sudden change of heart and mind?

An aphorism of Warren Buffet might offer an explanation:

"To invest successfully does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights or inside information. What is required is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding the framework ".

My conclusion is that the emotions triggered by the results and most notably the continued upsurge (and other pressure) actually did corrode the earlier intellectual framework.

Behavioral investing teaches that when emotions take over both in extreme bull and bear phases, rational investment decision making not longer applies.

Following the covering of his shorts, the share price declined to $204 in March only to resume its violent upward surge all the way to $304 in July 2011, i.e. another whopping 50% in only four to five months.

Even a seasoned hard-nosed guru like Tilson must have had his moments of doubt and pain, first when being forced to cover his shorts at a substantial loss and second when realizing that his original short thesis would have worked out perfectly well only four to five months later, when NFLX finally did take an epic fall, cratering almost 80% all the way down to $66.

Nothing is more convincing than a rising stock price for making bullish calls and strong long cases.

In my view the only groups making bullish predictions about ALK at this stage are rating agencies, consultants, banks and writers. What they all have in common is that they have no stake in the game and not an inkling of accountability.

Those with stakes in ALK are the insiders, and they have been busy selling off their holdings for quite a while already.[/b]Stocks have a tendency to overshoot at both ends. This is what is happening with ALK at this stage. Similar final surges took place with NFLX, GMCR and APAGF before the inevitable and ugly collapse.

All of them were relatively cheap on a valuation basis in case one would want to use this argument for a bullish case for ALK. Contrary to high-tech and biotech stocks with definite USPs and thus very high growth potential, ALK remains a cyclical and an airline with modest, unspectacular growth prospects, if any.

The more the shares race to unprecedented highs, the more bullish I get about being bearish.

The song remains the same: Icarus won't change history and escape his fate.

Ultimately he is doomed to crash into the sea.

Expect the stock to reverse course any time soon.

Grab this unique short opportunity now.[b]

I am short ALK. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Rating: 2.5/5 (6 votes)


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