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Robinhood Investors Betting Big On Airlines

I wrote earlier about how Robinhood investors were pushing in hard on the United States Oil Fund (USO) and then getting out just as the share price was rebounding. That obviously didn't end well for most of those folks, but I sort of admire their willingness to make the big contrarian bet even though it didn't work out.

It turns out, though, that they've got their next big bet lined up - airlines.

And they're not just adding airline stocks as a modest bet. They're committing big.

In February, there were a mere 250 Robinhood accounts that held positions in the U.S. Global Jets ETF (JETS), the fund that owns positions in all of the major air carriers. Today, that number is around 20,000, a whopping 8000% increase in just two months time.

During that time, total assets in the fund have gone from just $50 million to more than $600 million at their recent peak.

Warren Buffett disagrees. At Berkshire Hathaway's recent annual meeting said that he has abandoned airline stocks after what has happened with the coronavirus.

“The world changed for airlines,” - Warren Buffett

He also cited a continued uncertainty over where the industry is headed over not just the remainder of 2020, but the next several years. He sees it taking a long time for travelers to return to flying regularly, if they do at all.

His take on the sector is certainly reasonable, but there's also a case to be made for buying the dip in airlines here.

If you believe that the airline sector will survive (and it seems pretty likely), sentiment can't get much worse than it is right now. Buffett himself is famous for saying "be greedy when others are fearful". Now would certainly qualify as that time.

But, the global economy is slowly starting to reopen. Whether that means consumers return is another story and they'll certainly be hesitant to return to flying and cruising and other means of mass travel.

There's also the possibility of a government bailout. President Trump has said that he will take care of the travel and entertainment industry. A bailout would ensure the survival of the industry and likely result in a spike in airline share prices.

Airlines certainly carry a lot of risk in the short-term, but if you're a contrarian "buy the dip" kind of investor, there's a value story to be made here.

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