Air Canada sees shares close above 52-week high in heavy trading

TORONTO - Air Canada's class B shares closed at a new 52-week high Wednesday, extending an upward trend that has seen the airline's stock value more than triple in the past year.

The shares (TSX:AC.B) ended the day, up 22 cents or four per cent, at $5.72, surpassing its 52-week high of $5.52. It had climbed as much as $5.80 during the session, a level not seen since August 2008 — just weeks before the economy slipped into a deep recession.

A year ago, the stock closed at $1.80 on Oct. 30, 2012.

Since then, the company has launched Air Canada Rouge, a new discount carrier that began flying in July.

Air Canada's stock, which had already been rising slowly for months, jumped sharply in August when the airline's second-quarter results beat analyst estimates.

For the busier third quarter ended Sept. 30, analysts are estimating that Air Canada had about $3.4 billion of revenue, up about three per cent from $3.3 billion a year earlier.

Air Canada is also expected to have $1.03 per share of adjusted earnings, up about 25 per cent from 82 cents in the third quarter of 2012, according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Even with the recent rally, Air Canada's shares are worth far less than when the company returned to the public market in November 2006 at $21.

Air Canada is scheduled to release its third-quarter results on Nov. 8, before markets open.