Federal aid shows Air Canada, Ottawa 'getting out of their own way': Analyst
Reaction has been pouring in from Bay Street, Wall Street and beyond after Air Canada finally reached an aid agreement with the federal government.
Below is some of what analysts have been saying about the $5.9-billion agreement. All comments are from reports to clients unless otherwise noted.
“I was not surprised -- they had been working on this for quite some time. It was good that they’re moving past the issues that Air Canada has had over the past year with the shutdown, especially because Canada is one of the more restrictive countries. … I thought this was a good way of kind of the company and the country getting out of their own way.”
-Cowen Analyst Helane Becker (recommendation: Outperform; price target: $27.00) in BNN Bloomberg interview
“This is significantly larger than we had anticipated. … we expected a financing agreement of ~$4 billion for the airline. With ~$2 billion more in additional liquidity available to Air Canada at favourable interest rates, we see the airline with enough liquidity as the Canadian airline sector begins to recover from the pandemic. This aid package significantly de-risks Air Canada’s balance sheet and should alleviate investor concerns that the airline would need to continuously raise more private capital until demand trends materially improved.”
-CIBC Analyst Kevin Chiang (recommendation: Outperform; price target: $27.00)
“We continue to believe that the planned vaccination of the Canadian population by the fall, along with the eventual loosening of travel restrictions, will lead to a return to normal levels of domestic leisure travel demand in 2022, and a return to normal international leisure travel behaviour in 2023. Unfortunately, the recovery of and outlook for high-margin business travel remains more uncertain and represents one of the key reasons why we believe Air Canada's access to this additional liquidity from the Government of Canada represents valuable insurance.”
-TD Securities Analyst Tim James (recommendation: Hold; price target $29.00)
“We would anticipate the secured and first tranche of the unsecured loans to be drawn and used to support working capital needs, the redemption of higher cost debt, capital spending and recurring other aircraft debt servicing needs while the working capital support facility is expected to be segregated to manage redemptions of tickets … We would expect as traffic normalizes in 2022 that working capital balances would normalize and the package likely repaid.”
-ATB Capital Markets Analyst Chris Murray (recommendation: Outperform; price target: $28.00)