Will Fastjet PLC, easyJet plc And International Consolidated Airlines Group SA Boost Your Portfolio Returns?

Are these 3 airline plays ripe for investment? Fastjet PLC (LON: FJET), easyJet plc (LON: EZJ) and International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON: IAG).

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Shares in Africa-focused budget airline company Fastjet (LSE: FJET) have fallen by around a third today after it released a profit warning.

The challenging trading conditions that are affecting the African aviation industry have lasted for a longer period than originally anticipated by Fastjet’s management. Therefore, it expects to report results for 2016 that are materially below current expectations and doesn’t expect to be cash flow positive this year.

Clearly, this is disappointing news for the company’s investors. And while Fastjet has $20m in cash and is targeting cost savings through route rationalisation and reduced capacity, it states in today’s update that a fundraising may be needed later this year.

Looking ahead, Fastjet has huge potential to deliver impressive profit growth in the long run. The African aviation industry remains highly appealing for long-term investors, but with the company facing such an uncertain near-term future, it seems prudent to watch rather than buy Fastjet at the present time.

What’s the alternative?

That’s at least partly because there are a number of other enticing options within the aviation space. One example is budget airline easyJet (LSE: EZJ). Its shares have disappointed in 2016, falling by 12% and underperforming the FTSE 100 by 11% since the turn of the year. However, it continues to offer excellent growth prospects, with net profit due to rise by 7% in the current financial year, and by a further 15% next year.

Such impressive growth rates don’t command a high rating at the present time however, since easyJet trades on a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of just 10.3. This puts easyJet on a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of 0.7, which indicates that its shares offer growth at a reasonable price.

Furthermore, easyJet continues to be an excellent income play. Its shares yield 3.9% and with dividends due to rise by 18.3% next year, it’s set to yield 4.6% in 2017. And with dividends being covered 2.4 times by profit, there’s plenty of scope for additional rises in shareholder payouts in the medium to long term.

Value for money

Also worthy of purchase in the aviation space is British Airways owner IAG (LSE: IAG). Like easyJet, its shares offer superb value for money, with a low valuation and double-digit earnings growth combining to produce a PEG ratio of 0.5. And with the price of oil set to remain low over the medium term and the global economic outlook continuing to be positive in the long run (despite recent volatility), IAG appears set to benefit from an economic tailwind over the coming years.

Despite failing to pay a dividend for a number of years, IAG has quickly become a relatively appealing income stock. It’s due to pay out 19.8p per share in dividends in the current financial year, which puts it on a yield of 3.7%. And with dividends being covered 4.3 times by profit, it seems likely that shareholder payouts will rise at a rapid rate moving forward, thereby offering improving income prospects as well as a potential catalyst for the company’s share price.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be assessed. Consider taking independent financial advice.

Peter Stephens owns shares of easyJet. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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