J.P. Morgan Recommends Buying Delta

Delta Airlines (DAL) shares are jumping 10% this morning to $3.30 per share on a J.P. Morgan upgrade.

From the newswires:

Delta Air Lines was upgraded to overweight from neutral at J.P. Morgan due primarily to valuation. Analyst Jamie Baker believes Delta may have to declare bankruptcy in 2006, but the shares are pricing in a high probability, about 75%, of the air carrier going bankrupt in 2005. “While the market’s bankruptcy conclusion may ultimately prove accurate, we believe it is one winter season premature,” Baker said. “With equity purgatory not far below current levels, the option value reflected in Delta shares is expected to improve as capital-raising efforts gain momentum.” Baker estimates “equity purgatory” to be at about $1.50.

Recommending a stock that you think will be worthless a year from now is a very interesting call.

As I always do, let’s take a look at this analyst’s track record on Delta shares. Here are prior opinions with closing prices on the day of the recommendation:

03/12/03 Buy $7.48 close
07/20/04 Neutral $5.40 close
10/15/04 Sell $3.42 close
10/26/04 Neutral $4.63 close
05/18/05 Buy $3.35 open

If you’re wondering if you should buy Delta at $3.30 a share today, it’s tough to feel confident with this analyst’s call. After all, Baker wanted you to buy at $7, do nothing at $5, sell at $3, do nothing at $4, and buy at $3.