Japan Airlines

JAL shares climb on return to market

Carrier confident after exiting bankruptcy and becoming world's most profitable airline

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 September, 2012, 3:58am

Japan Airlines rose as much as 3 per cent on its return to trading in Tokyo following a 663 billion yen (HK$65.34 billion) initial public offering, making it Asia's third-biggest carrier by market value.

The company climbed as high as 3,905 yen from an offer price of 3,790 yen. It was at 3,830 yen at the close of trade yesterday.

The benchmark Nikkei-225 Index rose 1.4 per cent. The Tokyo-based carrier has a market value of US$8.77 billion.

The offering was priced at the top of the marketing range, which might limit gains, said Minoru Matsuno, the president of Value Search Asset Management, an investment advisory firm.

JAL returns to the stock exchange following a trip through bankruptcy and a turnaround that included shedding more than a third of workers, cancelling routes and retiring older planes.

"We should see the price rise gradually in the short-term," said Matsuno. "Overall, the fact that it rose at the start of trading is a plus."

JAL might climb to 5,420 yen, 43 per cent above its issue price, CLSA analysts Paul Wan and Yuki Haraguchi said in a note. They began covering the stock with a buy recommendation.

The airline was priced at five times forecast earnings in the public offering, less than half the level that larger rival All Nippon Airways trades at.

ANA's shares finished unchanged at 181 yen. They have fallen 16 per cent this year, compared with a 9.6 per cent gain for the Nikkei.

Japan Airlines was the most traded stock by value on the Tokyo Stock Exchange as of 2.30pm. A total of 146.4 billion yen worth of shares changed hands, compared with 25.3 billion yen in the second-most traded company, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group.

JAL's return to the stock market followed a two-year turnaround in bankruptcy protection that transformed it into the world's most profitable airline. The carrier is now planning to expand its international capacity 25 per cent over five years.

It may add new routes in Southeast Asia using on-order Boeing 787s, president Yoshiharu Ueki said before yesterday's re-listing.

"We've totally restructured and we've changed our mentality" Ueki said. "That will allow us to keep on making profits."

The airline is predicting a profit of 130 billion yen this fiscal year, compared with 40 billion yen at ANA. It has benefited from tax credits against past write-downs, which have prompted complaints from opposition lawmakers.