Lagging 2021 travel stock could soon play catch-up

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Booking Holdings may be about to book some gains.

So says JC O’Hara, chief market technician at MKM Partners, who sees potential in the travel services name as it lags its rivals year to date.

Though Booking is up more than 10% this year, other travel stocks are winning out, with Spirit Airlines, JetBlue and Expedia logging some of the largest returns.

“A lot of the travel names have basically moved sideways since March,” O’Hara told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Friday. “But Bookings is breaking out. … If it holds its current levels, it would be a new weekly closing high and that’s very powerful by our work.”

O’Hara set a $2,750 to $2,800 target for Booking, roughly 11.5% and 13.5% above its Monday trading price near $2,460.

“We are buyers of Booking on the breakout,” O’Hara said.

Booking shares fell nearly 1% by midday Monday.

Though travel stocks are largely pricing in a rebound, there’s still runway for many of the names, Quint Tatro, chief investment officer of Joule Financial, said in the same “Trading Nation” interview.

“Honestly, we think that the stocks are still underappreciated here,” Tatro said. “I think people are really underestimating the incredible pent-up demand that we see.”

He suggested watching the casino stocks. MGM Resorts in particular has the potential not only “to return to pre-pandemic levels, but go far beyond that” as it makes its way back to profitability, he said.

“Look, these stocks have run. Any dip in here, any news or short-term weakness I think is an opportunity to buy these names,” Tatro said.

MGM dropped nearly 1% by midday Monday.

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