Elliott Takes $1.9 Billion Stake in Southwest Airlines


Shares of Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) surged by about 7% in premarket trading on Monday after activist investor Elliott Investment Management revealed a significant $1.9 billion stake in the company.

Elliott Investment Management criticized Southwest Airlines’ recent performance, stating, “Southwest’s poor execution and leadership’s stubborn unwillingness to evolve the company’s strategy have led to deeply disappointing results for shareholders, employees, and customers alike.”

Southwest Airlines, a major carrier in the United States, has been grappling with higher costs and slower-than-anticipated revenue growth due to delays in receiving 737 MAX aircraft from Boeing (NYSE:BA).

The airline has acknowledged that these delays have created “significant challenges,” leading to overstaffing and the need to scale back growth plans. Southwest’s shares have decreased by nearly 4% this year, in contrast to the S&P 500 index’s approximate 12% increase.

Raymond James analyst Savanthi Syth commented, “We are not surprised by the activist interest in Southwest given the very strong franchise with valuable tangible and intangible assets.”

Elliott is known for advocating changes in companies to enhance shareholder returns. Southwest is not the only airline dealing with Boeing’s delays. United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) also reported a $200 million impact in the first quarter due to Boeing’s disruptions. Despite these hurdles, the airline industry anticipates strong performance driven by robust summer travel demand. Currently, Southwest shares are trading at about 19.52 times their forward profit estimates, compared to United Airlines’ 4.74 and above the industry average of 7.19.