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First class or coach? The state of Delta before its earnings call

6 months ago by Jared Russo in Earnings

Delta Airlines ($NYSE:DAL) has been flying high and beating estimates the last few quarters, and the airline is on the runway to profitability once again. 

According to Zacks Investment Research, based on analysts' forecasts, the consensus EPS forecast for the quarter is $2.27. The reported EPS for the same quarter last year was $1.8. This implies a rise of 23.8% YoY.

But when it comes to the alternative data, which can give us more insight into how competitors are doing across metrics besides revenue and stock trends, other airlines might have slight edges over Delta in many regards.

The only place we could find Delta as a clear number-one is for number of flights that come in on-time. Delta is first in on-time arrivals for its flights, but the gap is narrowing between it and Southwest

But among every other conceivable list and metric, Delta is not number one. That doesn't mean Delta isn't great at what it does, or doesn't see record profits, but it can't quite seem to get to number one.

Delta is second to American in total revenue, miles flown, fleet size, brand value, and passangers carried, second in profits to Southwest, third in number of routes, and fifth in destinations served.

In late 2017, Delta dropped to third in total number of employees by LinkedIn count. So while all airlines are doing better than ever, and employing more people, Delta is now working with less than United and American. But it's lkely that Delta isn't bothered by any of this: Hiring is up, its stock is up, and this could all just be bad optics by forced comparison.

When we look at social-media data, Southwest and Jetblue soar past Delta in total number of likes, follows, 'Talking About' counts, 'Were Here' counts, check-ins, and more. The marketing for Southwest and Jetblue is relentless, and noticable, and it appears this is an area Delta can improve on if they want to really go for number one on all the lists mentioned above.

Delta is at 1.5 million followers, which is respectable, but only 4th best out of the top 6 U.S. based airlines.

But it really doesn't seem like that is bothering Delta, which is just cruising along on good news ahead of its earnings call. Delta seems like a company that marches to the beat of its own drum, which is commendable, considering Thinknum Alternative Data also prides itself in doing the same.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Jared Russo

Jared is an editor for Thinknum, and has been writing for more than a decade. He previously worked at AOL, Vice, Google, Dotdash, and Sirius XM.

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