Air Lease's High-Flying CEO Takes Off Again

| About: Air Lease (AL)

What do Steven Udvar Hazy of Air Lease Corp (NYSE:AL) and the late Steve Jobs of Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) have in common? They were both billionaires when they began their second lease on life, so to speak. Steve Jobs reinvented Apple and took it to a new level, and Udvar Hazy is just launching his second flight with the air leasing industry that should soar to new heights as the firm ramps up operations.

Steven Udar Hazy is a Hungarian immigrant that turned his passion for airplanes into a multimillion-dollar aircraft leasing business. His first company, International Lease Finance Corporation was bought out by AIG in 1990 for over a billion dollars. Udar Hazy continued to manage the firm right up through the shameful demise of AIG as it went on corporate welfare in 2008 thanks to the benevolence of the U.S. taxpayer.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times by W. J. Hennigan, Udar Hazy’s parted paths with AIG after the federal government stepped in with bailout funds and began tying up the hands of management and restricting employee pay and bonuses.

This is a prime example of what happens when the U.S. government attempts to manage a business. In this case, Steven Udar Hazy’s new firm which was founded in 2010 and went public in May of this year will soon be eating ILFC’s lunch. The money raised from the IPO is going straight into the key assets needed to make this company fly—airplanes.

Just this week, Air Lease announced that it has closed a deal with Boeing to purchase four additional 787-9 Dreamliners and four Next-Generation 737-800s. This is a great deal for both Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Air lease. The new fuel efficient planes will put Air Lease at a competitive advantage over the competition. This is on top of 51 A320 Airbus airliners and an initial purchase of 54 Boeing 737s. Delivery of these aircraft will extend through 2017.

Steven Udar Hazy’s star power will no doubt make this one of the best run companies to go public in 2011 with serious profit potential. Air Leasing’s customer list already reads like a whos who list of major world airlines. Amongst its customers are Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV), Spirit Airlines (NASDAQ:SAVE), Hawaiian Airlines, United Continental-Holdings (NYSE:UAL), Air Canada, AeroMexico, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, airberlin, XL Airways-Germany, Thomas Cook, Air Arabia, Etihad, Air China, Air Macau, China Eastern-Airlines, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Korean Air, SriLankan Airlines, GoAir, Kingfisher Airlines, and Vietnam Airlines. This represents about a third of its customer list.

The firm has an operating margin of 32.28%, and market cap of $2.3 billion, and an enterprise value of $3.72 billion as of December 15, 2011. Air Lease Corporation is expected to grow at a healthy clip of 40% per year over the next five years. For quarters ending June of 2011 and September 2011, the company delivered upside earnings surprises of 33.3% and 20% respectively. Third quarter revenues year over year were up a whopping 360%.

Air Lease Corporation makes sense to investors wishing to get in on the growth of the air transportation industry without having to buy high risk airline stocks such as the now belly-up American Airlines. This company should make a good holding for retirement investors with a long-term horizon.

JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Goldman Sachs, Invesco Private Capital, Inc., and T. Rowe Price Associates are among top institutional holders of this new stock issue. The stock also has good visibility, with 10 analysts covering with 2 Strong Buy ratings and 5 Buy ratings. Deutsche Bank initiated coverage with a Buy rating on September 9.

Underwriters for the May IPO included: J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Credit Suisse Securities LLC, Barclays Capital Inc., FBR Capital Markets & Co., RBC Capital Markets, LLC and Wells Fargo Securities, LLC Macquarie Capital Inc., Scotia Capital Inc. and SG Americas Securities, LLC.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in AL over the next 72 hours.