The Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd (ASX: FLT) share price was out of form on Thursday.
The travel agent giant’s shares were down as much as 8% at one stage before ending the day with a 2.5% decline to $14.93.
This means the Flight Centre share price is down almost 7% year to date.
Why did the Flight Centre share price tumble on Thursday?
Although the airline operator revealed a significant improvement in its performance, its comments on travel agent commissions shocked investors.
Qantas advised that it is aiming to reduce its costs of sale by lowering front-end commissions paid to travel agents on international tickets from 5% to 1%. Investors appear concerned that other airlines will follow suit, hitting travel agents hard.
One broker that isn’t concerned by the news is Goldman Sachs.
It commented: “We make no changes to our earnings forecasts on either name [Flight Centre and Webjet] and do not expect this to become a broad-based phenomenon across all airlines, although it remains a key risk factor. We believe that Travel Agents will remain a key link to the airline distribution supply chain and although commission models may be restructured, we do not anticipate a strong permanent margin compression for these players.”
Is this a buying opportunity?
While Goldman Sachs continues to rate Webjet’s shares as a buy, it still isn’t recommending Flight Centre’s shares as a buy. This is despite its price target being well beyond current levels.
According to the note, the broker has retained its neutral rating and $20.00 price target on its shares. Goldman also notes that there are a number of upside and downside risks for investors to consider.
For the former, it sees a faster-than-expected recovery in trading environment, significant market-share gains in the online channel, and travel bubbles as potential upside risks.
Whereas key downside risks to consider are the potential emergence of COVID-19 strains which could make vaccines less effective, further decline in brick-and-mortar travel sales, increased competition in the corporate segment, and industry-wide reductions in travel agent commissions.
Food for thought for investors.