In 2022, JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) and Spirit Airways (NYSE:SAVE) introduced a merger. Nevertheless, in March of 2023, the US Division of Justice sued in an try to dam the merger, which prompted some issues and uncertainties concerning the acquisition. Some traders have identified the newly discovered threat because of the DOJ’s, Division of Justice, motion; nonetheless, I view the matter otherwise. I consider that it’s extra seemingly for the deal to undergo than to be blocked by DOJ for a couple of causes. First, DOJ suggests two main the explanation why two companies mustn’t merge, however I consider the authorized standing on the matter is pretty weak. Additional, the choose assigned to the case is more likely to have totally different views than DOJ. Subsequently, I consider that JetBlue and Spirit Airways have an opportunity at profitable the case towards DOJ, which makes Spirit Airways a purchase and JetBlue Airways a maintain.
Division of Justice’s Argument
In suing the merger, the DOJ has two main factors. First, the DOJ says that the “acquisition [will] permit JetBlue to elimate its largest ultra-low-cost rival,” which has introduced “decrease fares and extra choices” for “significantly value delicate customers.” Additionally, the DOJ says that the merger will “get rid of half of the ultra-low-cost capability in the US,” which is able to “end in increased fares and fewer decisions for tens of thousands and thousands of vacationers.” Additional, the DOJ factors out that “costs would enhance on routes the place the 2 airways at the moment compete,” which, for “over 40 routes,” will make the “mixed market share” so excessive that “the deal is presumptively anticompetitive.” All these arguments by the DOJ have a authorized footing below Part 7 of the Clayton Act.
I consider the authorized footing for the DOJ’s argument is relatively weak. In line with the Federal Trade Commission’s guide to antitrust laws, “Part 7 of the Clayton Act prohibits mergers and acquisitions the place the impact could also be considerably to reduce competitors or to are likely to create a monopoly.”
First, addressing the half the place it says “are likely to create a monopoly.” I consider this to be fully false within the case of JetBlue and Spirit’s merger. In line with the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in 2022, JetBlue had about 5.5% market share whereas Spirit had about 4.9% market share. Thus, the mixed market share of those two firms is nowhere close to a monopoly as it can stand at about 10.4%, which is considerably decrease than American’s (AAL) 17.6%, Delta’s 17.2% (DAL), Southwest’s 16.9% (LUV), and United’s (UAL) 15.5%.
Additionally, the DOJ mentions that over 40 routes will develop into a monopoly if JetBlue and Spirit merge. However, concerning this matter, JetBlue already said that the corporate has dedicated to “divest[ing] all of Spirit’s holdings in Boston and New York in addition to 5 gates and associated belongings at Fort Lauderdale to permit for the allocation of different ultra-low-cost carriers.”
As such, as a result of the merger is not going to create a monopoly within the airline trade in any means, I consider will probably be extraordinarily exhausting for the DOJ, below Part 7 of the Clayton Act, to argue that the merger creates a monopoly.
Additional, Part 7 of the Clayton Act additionally says that it prohibits mergers that may considerably reduce competitors available in the market. Once more, I consider it’s cheap to argue towards the DOJ’s claims concerning this matter. Going again to the statics by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, ultra-low-cost carriers’ market share solely accounts for a mixed complete of about 8.2% whereas the three largest legacy carriers have a market share of about 51.7%. If together with Southwest, the 4 largest gamers have a market share of about 67.2%. Thus, I consider JetBlue’s argument of the merger probably having a optimistic impact in the marketplace to be extra cheap. The merger could damage the ultra-low-cost customers, however they solely account for lower than 10% of the market. Thus, if JetBlue and Spirit’s merger permits them to raised compete towards the 4 largest carriers, over half of the vacationers could profit from the merger. In line with JetBlue, the corporate’s “distinctive mixture of low fares and nice service is a aggressive pressure that retains the legacy carriers on their toes.” Subsequently, just like the arguments concerning monopoly, I consider the DOJ’s argument to be weak leaving a possible for the merger to undergo.
Judge William Young shall be listening to the case on October sixteenth, 2023. Decide William was appointed by former President Ronald Raegan, whose administration was strongly in favor of mergers. The judicial department is an actor that’s impartial of the political elements of the manager and legislative branches; nonetheless, judges appointed by the president will usually have related ideologies to the president who appointed them.
President Raegan was arguably for company mergers. As Washington Post’s 1988 article places it, “the Raegan years have witnessed one of many best waves of mergers, takeovers and company restructuring in historical past.” The offers, through the Raegan period, had been value $2 trillion and the “door to company mergers has by no means been open wider than through the Raegan presidency.” Subsequently, I consider it’s cheap to argue that Decide William Younger could also be extra lenient in antitrust insurance policies.
Spirit and JetBlue
I cannot go into the small print of the merger because it has already been lined extensively within the Searching for Alpha group, however Spirit Airways would be the largest beneficiary if the deal goes by. JetBlue is anticipated to purchase Spirit Airways for $3.8 billion. Contemplating that Spirit Airways has a market capitalization of about $1.9 billion, the potential from the merger is at about 100% upside. Within the case of JetBlue Airways, the corporate could profit from the merger years into the longer term, however within the close to time period, the dangers out shadow the advantages. The corporate’s market capitalization is about $2.26 billion, far smaller than the value it’s paying for Spirit Airways, and the corporate’s money stands at about $1 billion. As such, there shall be an enormous dilution.
Threat exists. The end result of the case could be speculated, however nothing is for certain. As such, the unpredictable and speculative end result holds a big threat to my bullish thesis. Nevertheless, I stay bullish on Spirit Airways as I strongly consider that the probabilities of a merger approval are extraordinarily excessive. Not solely is the DOJ’s argument pretty weak, however the choose assigned to the present case may have a good view of the mergers. Subsequently, I consider Spirit Airways is a purchase whereas JetBlue is a maintain because of the excessive acquisition charge.