Delta Air Lines' battered stock plunged to a new low yesterday after a Wall Street analyst advised clients to sell their shares on fears...

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ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines’ battered stock plunged to a new low yesterday after a Wall Street analyst advised clients to sell their shares on fears the nation’s third-largest carrier will file for bankruptcy within the next two months.

Also yesterday, Delta’s pilots union postponed plans to elect new officers to its executive committee and to fill a position on its negotiating committee.

In a memo to pilots, the union said it has received information indicating that Delta may have accelerated the announced closing date of its Dallas hub in order to interfere with the election process.

The memo did not elaborate. In September 2004, Delta said it would close its Dallas hub by Jan. 31 of this year, and that move was completed then.

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“Delta’s decision was purely economically based and had nothing to do with [the union’s] internal matters,” company spokesman John Kennedy said.

Delta’s shares fell 28 cents, or 12.6 percent, to close at $1.95 yesterday.

The company’s market capitalization — the total value of the company’s outstanding shares — fell to $280 million, less than one-third the amount of discount carrier AirTran Airways despite Delta being 15 times larger in annual revenue.

The decline came after a research note by Merrill Lynch analyst Michael Linenberg, who lowered the Atlanta-based airline’s rating from neutral to sell.

“We think the recent surge in fuel prices greatly increases the likelihood of a bankruptcy filing within the next two months,” Linenberg said.

On Monday, Delta named a new treasurer. Late Monday, J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker said in a research note that “another potential shock” is close with Delta’s quarterly filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission expected this week.

Baker said a Delta bankruptcy filing by the end of the year is “all but assured” if the airline doesn’t get a significant infusion of cash in the near term.

Delta’s chief executive has said the company’s current transformation plan, which includes cutting annual costs by $5 billion by the end of next year, is not enough to save the struggling carrier.