Title: Southwest's acquisition of AirTran: an analysis of short-term stock performance

Authors: Wilfred S. Manuela Jr.; Dawna L. Rhoades

Addresses: John Gokongwei School of Management, Ateneo de Manila University, Room 302, 3rd Floor, Loyola Heights, Quezon City 1108, Philippines ' College of Business, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 600 S. Clyde Morris Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114, USA

Abstract: This paper examines the short-term stock performance of Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways using time series data consisting of daily and cumulative abnormal returns ± 60 trading days around the merger announcement and merger completion dates. The impact of Southwest's announcement to acquire AirTran is positive. The daily abnormal returns of Southwest and AirTran, using the S&P 500 as index, are highly significant on the merger announcement date. The impact of the merger completion is mixed, however. Southwest's share price drifted lower up to the merger date, underperforming the S&P 500, while the share price of AirTran generally drifted higher in a very narrow range. Southwest and AirTran, nevertheless, outperformed the AMEX Airline Index, suggesting that the higher fuel prices at the time of the merger may have influenced investor reaction to the merger, resulting in lower share prices of major airlines. The beta of Southwest improved after the merger announcement and completion of the merger, suggesting shareholder confidence in the merger and in Southwest's financial performance, at least in the short-term.

Keywords: abnormal returns; airline mergers; event study; short-term stock performance; Southwest Airlines; AirTran Airways; mergers and acquisitions; M&A; fuel prices; investor reaction; shareholder confidence.

DOI: 10.1504/WRITR.2013.059840

World Review of Intermodal Transportation Research, 2013 Vol.4 No.4, pp.227 - 246

Received: 06 Sep 2012
Accepted: 18 Mar 2013

Published online: 15 Mar 2014 *

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