Is WestJet Airlines Ltd. the Right Airline to Buy?

Because of its strong business and its growing routes, I believe WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSX:WJA) is a serious buy.

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Most stocks have been getting hammered in this first month of 2016. There’s no denying that fact. However, while some of them certainly deserve to correct, I believe that there are some companies that are great buys at present-day values. One of those companies is WestJet Airlines Ltd. (TSX:WJA).

Now, on the surface this stock seems to be at odds with itself. Many parts of Canada are reliant on oil for revenue. Oil prices have dropped, so that hurts many people. On the other hand, WestJet profits more when oil prices are down because it is less expensive to fly planes.

Despite this conundrum, I believe that WestJet is a great buy for investors. There are a couple reasons for this.

The first has to do with its quarterly results. For 42 consecutive quarters–that’s 10.5 years–results have been in the black. Despite the reputation that airline stocks get, WestJet has done an incredible job staying profitable. And this most recent quarter is no different. It nearly doubled its year-over-year net profit, posting a total of $101.8 million. Further, its operating profit was $195 million, which was a 26% increase year over year.

Part of what drove this was the drop in oil prices. According to WestJet, the company saw a 27.9% drop in fuel costs from the previous quarter. With fuel costs dropping to $206.9 million, the company is in a strong position to grow profit.

But another reason why I like WestJet is because it is expanding its markets and increasing its revenue per passenger. It used to check a passenger’s first bag for free on international flights. That is now stopping, which the CEO expects will result in $25 million in new revenue.

Further, the company has been making moves to increase its revenue per passenger when on the plane. A few years ago WestJet would make an additional $6 per guest. That has since increased to $16 without frustrating passengers. No one wants to pay for a checked bag, but people don’t mind paying for food.

Then there is the company’s expansion of new routes. For the first time passengers of WestJet can fly across the Atlantic. While the company will price the flights low, it’ll be able to make that up with other fees. The company expects these new routes to start this year.

The reality for WestJet is that it’s a solid company. It generates significant profit, it has been able to keep that profitability going for 10.5 years, and it is expanding into other markets that will allow it to further generate revenue. And on top of all this, the company rewards its investors with a modest 2.87% yield, which is $0.14 per quarter, and a continuous share-repurchasing program.

All told, while many airlines are worth avoiding, I believe investors should seriously consider buying WestJet. The entire market is down, but the company’s fundamentals are strong and that makes it a buy.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Jacob Donnelly has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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