I have long subscribed to Warren Buffett’s jest that the destruction of value over the decades in the global airline industry has been so bad that it might have been better to shoot down the Wright Brothers while they were testing their Wright Flyer biplane in North Carolina back in 1903.

Just think about it for a moment. How many things can go wrong for an airline? Global health scares, mutinous pilots, cabin staff and engineers, unhappy customers, accidents, terrorism, unreliable aircraft and of course fuel prices, just for starters. And how about disputes over airport access, late deliveries, international politicking using airlines as bargaining tools, and unfair competition from subsidised state airlines? The list of nightmare scenarios is a long one.

Not forgetting of course that in a high cost, low margin business, which is basically what airlines are, a bad management decision can tip an airline into the red in a matter of weeks.

Still curious? Not only does it now turn out that Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway now has significant holdings in the four major US airlines, but Qantas seems to have dodged almost all of those negative bullets in recent times.

And Australian investors are climbing over each other to buy stocks that aren’t on excessive price earnings ratios, have a relatively positive earnings outlook and a good history of fully franked dividends.

Patrick Hodgens, an ex-Macquarie bank fund manager who recently founded the Firetrail Investments group, was recently quoted as saying that if Virgin raised its airfares to remain competitive in the domestic market, Qantas would most likely match that move.

If that happened, he said, Qantas might be able to lift its earnings by up to 30%.

Hodgens subsequently addressed a presentation in Sydney last week at which he made his bullish sentiments on Qantas very clear, saying the stock was on less than nine times forward earnings.

“We value the stock at more than $10 a share,” he said.

He also noted how assiduous the company has been in buying back stock, pointing to the fact that according to the third quarter trading update, the company has bought back no less than 28% of its stock since 2015, with inevitable benefits for earnings per share.

The latest buyback, announced in February and completed in May, spent $305 million buying back just under 30 million shares, leaving capital of 1.59 billion shares. That’s a cut of more than 15% in the size of the cake, this calendar year alone.

The company paid shareholders an interim dividend of 12 cents a share  in March, fully franked.

Firetrail runs an absolute return fund and also a “High conviction” long-only fund, of which Qantas is clearly a constituent.

Hodgens is talking his book of course, and enjoyed teasing his audience by outlining its recent record and then challenging his audience to name the stock he was describing.

But he’s not alone in seeing an upbeat outlook for what we used to call our national carrier.

Most international airlines are on around 11 times, it would seem, and here we are with an airline that not only has a hammerlock in the domestic passenger business, but is starting to make earnings headway via its international alliances and operations.

Just adding to the list of dodged bullets, Qantas doesn’t have any Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft that have been so ostentatiously grounded following disastrous crashes of near-new aircraft, firstly in Indonesia in October last year, and then in Ethiopia in March.

Indeed Qantas CEO Alan Joyce was reported in June to have been ready to buy some 737 Max 8s to upgrade Qantas’ domestic fleet, so confident is he that Boeing can fix the software problem that has caused all the grief.

Qantas affiliate Jetstar is just as fortunate, having plumped for the relatively vice-free Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the equally safe Airbus A320 as the backbone of its fleet.

The brokers aren’t quite so positive on the stock. Of the six surveyed by FNArena, three are neutral, two have a buy on it and one has a sell.

The stock price certainly isn’t too demanding, sitting now at around $5.85 after hitting $6.87 a year ago. Concerns about fuel prices appear to be the big negative, although jet fuel prices haven’t kicked anything like as much as expected.

Morgan Stanley’s sitting on the fence but notes the frequent flyer loyalty programme could provide support for a re-rating, once there is broader support for the earnings profile.

Credit Suisse leans to outperformance, thanks partly to an expected lift in corporate travel demand now the Coalition has won the election, but most particularly because weaker rival Virgin Australia is looking to cut capacity.

And Macquarie leans exactly the opposite way, talking about revenue per seat kilometre growth being likely to ease as this new financial year rolls out.

Citi’s got it as a buy because the broker expects Qantas to have generated international growth of 6.1% in the half just ended. That compares with less inspiring domestic earnings numbers, producing an expected 5% overall drop in pretax profit in the result coming just around the corner.

Perhaps the biggest fillip to investor enthusiasm is a consensus view that the dividend will lift from 17 cents for the 2017-18 year to 23.7 cents for the latest year.

And while the consensus PE for the looming result is 10.1 times, an expected slight lift in earnings per share in the 2019-20 year should bring that back under the magic 10 mark to around 9.6 times.

The brokers collectively expect a modest growth in earnings per share from 56 cents last year to 57.1 in the year just ended, moving up to 60.1 cents for the current year.

Conclusion? The expected hike in fuel prices has not occurred, leaving Qantas shares looking a mite under-priced, if you think that situation will continue. And there aren’t a lot of under-priced blue chips around at the moment.