It’s no surprise that Wizz Air Holdings (LSE: WIZZ) is one of the biggest fallers in Monday business. Airlines have been some of the major casualties in recent sessions as flight cancellations to help contain the coronavirus have increased. This particular operator finds itself dealing 9% lower in start-of-week trade.
The colossal impact of the tragic viral breakout on the global airline industry was illustrated last week by the International Air Transport Association. It estimates that the coronavirus will result in $29.3bn worth of lost revenues, and cause total air traffic to fall 4.7% in 2020. This would be the first drop since the 2008/09 global financial crisis.
Hungarian flyer Wizz Air’s focus on the low-cost European marketplace doesn’t take it to the most affected regions in China. But a detonation in infection rates elsewhere means that many investors are increasingly fearing similar restrictions in destinations closer to home. The explosion of cases in Italy certainly leads to fears of an epidemic in the FTSE 250 firm’s core territories.
Much too cheap
Recent share price strength over at Wizz Air gives further incentive for shareholders to sell today. The airline had leapt 40% in value in the 12 months to last week’s close, and recently hit record peaks just shy of £50. With those coronavirus concerns rising, now would seem to be an ideal time to book profits.
Despite this strength, though, Wizz Air still carried a pretty-low valuation. And today’s move southwards has caused it to look cheaper still. Right now it trades on a sub-1 forward price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of 0.4.
It’s probable that City forecasts of a 29% earnings jump in the financial year to March 2021 could be downgraded in the weeks and months ahead. In my opinion though, that scenario is baked into the flyer’s rock-bottom earnings multiples. And it remains a top long-term buy at these levels.
I’ve long been a fan of Wizz Air. Since launching around a decade-and-a-half ago, the airline now flies more than 700 routes and to 45 countries across Europe. This stratospheric rise now makes it the largest carrier in Central and Eastern European markets, including Poland, Germany, Romania and Croatia. These regions are of course rich with economic potential.
Quarterly financials released in late January illustrate Wizz Air’s brilliant profits outlook over the longer term. It said that passenger numbers leapt 23% in the three months to December, to 10m, a result that helped carry group revenues 24% higher to €637.3m.
Trading has been so strong, in fact, that the business upgraded its net profit forecast for fiscal 2020 to between €350m and €355m. This is up from a previous range of €335m and €350m.
Wizz Air’s rapid expansion programme is clearly paying off handsomely. It has launched 100 new routes since March alone, added two new airports (in Paris and Yerevan), and bought airplanes. Coronavirus issues may keep the share price under pressure in the near term. In my opinion though, long-term investors looking for growth heroes should give the airline serious attention at current prices.
Royston Wild has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended Wizz Air Holdings. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.