Airbus Writes Down $2.3 Billion on Military Tanker/Transport

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In mid-January Airbus reported its 2016 orders and deliveries, but the company’s financial results were not delivered until Wednesday morning. Last year the company delivered a record 688 commercial jets and took orders for 731 new planes during the year.

This morning the company reported that group revenues for the year totaled €67 billion (about $70.4 billion), a year-over-year increase of 3%. Revenues in the commercial aircraft division rose 7% as a result of the record deliveries and a favorable currency exchange rate.

Adjusted EBIT dipped slightly from €4.1 billion in 2015 to €3.96 billion in 2016. In the commercial division adjusted EBIT rose from €2.77 billion to €2.8 billion. The increase reflected higher A320 volumes and a 21% decline in research and development (R&D) expenses due mainly to the planned R&D ramp-down on the A350. The total was negatively impacted by the lower A330 production rate, higher A350 dilution, transition pricing and ramp-up costs.

The really bad news for the company came in its military aircraft division, where Airbus took a €2.2 billion ($2.3 billion) charge on its A400M military tanker/transport program. And that may not be the end of the story:

Cash retentions by customers will continue to weigh significantly in 2017 and 2018 in particular. Challenges remain on meeting contractual capabilities, securing sufficient export orders in time, cost reduction and commercial exposure, which could be significant. Given the size of the cumulative A400M programme loss, the Board of Directors has mandated management to re-engage with customers to cap the remaining exposure.

In other words, customers for the A400M are withholding payment until the plane’s problems are corrected. and Airbus is going to try to negotiate down its exposure.

Airbus intends to deliver around 200 of its A320 single aisle planes in 2017 and expects first delivery of the new A330neo in the first half of 2018. The company’s other white elephant, the A380, will continue to be manufactured at a rate of one a month “until the market picks up.”

Shares traded down about 1% in Paris following the announcement at €66.51 (about $66.92) per share, in a 52-week range of €48.07 to €67.83, and the high was posted this morning. The 12-month consensus price target is €71.89.