Delta Air Lines Share Price Flies High After Strong Full-Year Earnings and Beating Quarterly Expectations Again (DAL)

Ned Piplovic

Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines, Inc. (NYSE:DAL) has recovered most of its share price losses since its recent all-time high in July 2019 and is looking to continue this advancement and the uptrend on positive financial results for the last quarter and full-year 2020.


Delta’s current share price still has more than 10% room on the upside before it reaches Wall Street analysts’ average target price of $67.83. Because of this room for growth and the anticipation that Delta will build on its year-end results with another better-than-expected financial report for the first quarter, all 18 of the analysts that are currently covering the Delta stock have a “Buy” (11) or a “Strong Buy” (7) recommendation.


Financial Results

On January 14, 2020, Delta Air Lines reported its fourth-quarter and year-end results for 2019. In the last quarter of the year, Delta generated $11.44 billion in total revenue, which was a 6% increase over the same period during the previous year. Passenger services accounted for nearly  90% of total revenue and advanced at the same 6% overall growth rate. While cargo revenue declined by 13% for the period, that segment had minimal impact as its accounts for just slightly more than 1% of Delta’s total revenue.


A reduction of 14% due to aircraft fuel costs and related taxes drove gross profit 28% higher from $1.1 billion in the same period last year to the $1.4 billion in the last period of 2019. Earnings advanced 8% from $1.02 billion to $1.1 billion, or $1.71 per diluted share. Adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $1.70 came in above the $1.20 to $1.50 guidance and beat analysts’ expectations of $1.40 by more than 21%. Including the fourth quarter of 2019, Delta has beaten analysts’ quarterly earnings estimates in all of the past five consecutive periods.

Exclusive  How to Play the 2024 Election Like a Pro

Full-year revenues of $47 billion for 2019 were $2.57 billion, or 6% higher than in 2018. While not as high as the 14% quarterly reduction, 6% lower fuel costs saved $500 million for the year. Additionally, ancillary businesses and refinery cost reduction added another $450 million to create cost savings of nearly $1 billion from just those two line items. They also drove gross profit 26% higher from $5.23 billion in 2018 to $6.65 billion for the most recent full year.

While fourth-quarter earnings grew by 8% year-over-year, Delta delivered a full-year earnings boost of 21% from $3.94 billion in 2018 to $4.77 billion in 2019 due to strong earnings performances in the first three periods of the year. Full-year 2019 EPS was $7.32, or $7.30 on an adjusted basis, which beat the analysts’ cumulative EPS expectation of $6.84 for the full year by 6.7%. After generating $8.4 billion of operating cash flow and $4.2 billion of free cash flow in 2019, Delta returned $3 billion to its shareholders through its share repurchase program and dividend income distributions.



The company has boosted its annual dividend every year since starting distributions in 2013. Over the past six years, Delta Air Lines has enhanced its total annual dividend payout amount nearly seven-fold. That pace of dividend advancement corresponds to an average growth rate of 37.3% per year.

The company’s current quarterly payout of $0.35 amount is 14.8% higher than the $0.305 dividend distribution from the same period last year. This new quarterly amount corresponds to a $1.61 annualized payout and a 2.6% forward dividend yield. The current yield is nearly 42% higher than Delta’s own 1.9% average yield over the past five years.

Exclusive  Seven Satellite Stocks to Buy for Growth

In addition to outperforming its own average yield, Delta’s current yield of 2.6% is 24% higher than the 2.12% average yield of the overall Services sector. Furthermore, Delta’s current yield is also nearly double the 1.37% simple average yield of the Airlines industry segment. Also, Delta’s current yield is even 30% higher than the 2% simple average yield of the Airlines industry segment’s only dividend-paying companies.



Share Price

The company’s stock entered the trailing 12-month period on the tail end of a downtrend that began in late November 2019 and pushed the share price down 22% towards its 52-week low of $47.10 on Jan. 22, 2019. After bottoming out in the first week of the trailing year, the share price reversed direction and ascended with just a couple of directional changes over the subsequent six months. By the time it reached its new all-time high of $63.16 on July 24, 2019, the share price had gained nearly 35% over its 52-week low from January 2019.

However, the high level did not last long because the share price immediately reversed direction and gave back more than half of those gains over the subsequent two months. Following another reversal in direction in early October 2019, the share price recovered almost all those losses to close on Jan. 14, 2020 at $61.45. While just 22% higher than it was five years ago and still 2.7% short of its all-time high from July 2019, the Jan. 14, closing price marked a gain of more than 28% over the past year and was 30.5% higher than the 52-week low from January last year.

Exclusive  Introducing Stock Options in Pursuit of Profits

The strong share price recovery over the past year combined with the company’s above-average dividend income payouts to reward Delta’s shareholders with a 32% total return on their investment over the trailing one-year period. Recent share price fluctuations have limited total returns over the past three years to just 24%. While only slightly higher than the one-year performance, the asset appreciation and dividend total returns over the last five years have exceeded 38%.


Delta Air Line s, Inc. (NYSE:TGT)

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, and founded in 1924, Delta Air Lines, Inc. provides scheduled air transportation for passengers and cargo internationally. Delta Air Lines serves more than 180 million customers each year. Through its global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offered service to more than 300 destinations in over 57 countries and operated a fleet of more than 800 aircraft as of March 2019. The airline is a founding member of the SkyTeam global alliance and participates in the industry’s leading transatlantic joint venture with Air France-KLM and Alitalia, as well as a joint venture with Virgin Atlantic. Including its worldwide alliance partners, Delta offers customers more than 15,000 daily flights and services 660 locations in 130 countries. The company’s key hubs and markets are Amsterdam, Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK and New York-LaGuardia, London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Salt Lake City, São Paulo, Seattle, Seoul and Tokyo-Narita.





Ned Piplovic is the assistant editor of website content at Eagle Financial Publications. He graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Philosophy. Prior to joining Eagle, Ned spent 15 years in corporate operations and financial management. Ned writes for and

share on:

Like This Article?
Now Get Mark's FREE Special Report:
3 Dividend Plays with Sky-High Returns

This newly-released report by a top-20 living economist details three investments that are your best bets for income and appreciation for the rest of the year and beyond.

Get Access to the Report, 100% FREE

share on:


Dr. Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

Product Details

  • Forecasts & Strategies
  • Home Run Trader
  • Fast Money Alert
  • Five Star Trader
  • TNT Trader

Bryan Perry

A former Wall Street financial advisor with three decades' experience, Bryan Perry focuses his efforts on high-yield income investing and quick-hitting options plays.

Product Details

  • Cash Machine
  • Premium Income PRO (exclusively for subscribers of Cash Machine)
  • Quick Income Trader
  • Breakout Options Alert
  • Hi-Tech Trader

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker,
financial journalist, and money manager. As well as a book author and regular contributor to
numerous investment websites, Jim is the editor of:

Product Details

  • Successful Investing
  • High Velocity Options
  • Intelligence Report
  • Bullseye Stock Trader
  • Eagle Eye Opener

Bob Carlson

Bob Carlson provides independent, objective research covering all the financial issues of retirement and retirement planning. In addition, Bob serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Fairfax County (VA) Employees’ Retirement System, which has over $2.8 billion in assets.

Product Details

  • Retirement Watch
  • Retirement Watch Spotlight Series
  • Lifetime Retirement Protection Program

Jon Johnson

Jon Johnson's philosophy in investing and trading is to take what the market gives you regardless if that is to the upside or downside. For the past 21 years, Jon has helped thousands of clients gain success in the financial markets through his newsletters and education services:

Product Details

  • Investment House Daily
  • Stock of the Week
  • Technical Traders Alert
  • Rapid Profits Stock Trader

Used by financial advisors and individual investors all over the world, is the premier provider and one-stop shop for dividend information and research.

Product Details

Popular tools include our proprietary Dividend Calendar, Dividend Calculator, Dividend Score Card, and many more.

  • Dividend Investor

George Gilder

George Gilder is the most knowledgeable man in America when it comes to the future of technology and its impact on our lives.  He’s an established investor, bestselling author, and economist with an uncanny ability to foresee how new breakthroughs will play out, years in advance.

Product Details

  • Technology Report
  • Technology Report PRO
  • Moonshots
  • Private Reserve
  • Millionaire Circle


DayTradeSPY was founded by head trader Hugh Grossman, a retired internal auditor for a Fortune 500 company. After years of first-hand experience trying out one trading strategy after another, Hugh instead developed his own trading system centered around day trading SPY options. That’s it... Nothing else.

Product Details

  • Trading Room
  • Pick of the Day
  • Inner Circle
  • Online Workshops