Airlines

EasyJet has 'structural advantage' as airline stocks tumble, fund manager says

Key Points
  • As the coronavirus outbreak begins to ripple through Europe and threatens to become a global pandemic, European airline stocks have plunged.

British carrier easyJet has a "structural advantage" over its peers as airline stocks continue to be hammered by coronavirus fears, according to Miton Group Fund Manager Eric Moore.

As the outbreak begins to ripple through Europe and threatens to become a global pandemic, European airline stocks have plunged. Germany's largest airline, Lufthansa, on Wednesday announced a sweeping cost-saving program which will involve the suspension of recruitment and an offer of unpaid leave to employees.

EasyJet shares are down by around 20% this week alone, but Moore, who holds the stock in the Miton Income fund, said it is "structurally more advantaged" than the likes of Lufthansa. He suggested easyJet has a "sustainable cost advantage" and was "taking market share" from the so-called "flag carrier" airlines.

VIDEO2:3302:33
Recession 'not impossible' as coronavirus spreads, strategist says

Speaking to CNBC's "Squawk Box Europe" Wednesday, Moore suggested that while there would undoubtedly be a short-term hit to demand, the stock's prospect would depend on whether the outbreak fundamentally alters consumer behavior.

"EasyJet itself has very short visibility, maybe six weeks forward visibility, so it is definitely going to be difficult, but if you think we are just going to push things to the right and in the long run, consumer behavior won't change, people will still want to go on their holidays, people are going to take business trips, then it is a buying opportunity," Moore said.

While the U.K. has mostly contained its instances of the virus so far, Moore projected that the situation will get worse, given this week's rate of new cases across Europe, and that airline stocks will likely be even cheaper in a few weeks' time.

EasyJet shares were down another 1.9% on Wednesday during afternoon trade.

VIDEO3:0903:09
Coronavirus could have significant implications for airlines, SAS CEO says