Bombardier 1Q Profit Drops

TORONTO (AP) -- Bombardier Inc., the world's third-largest maker of commercial aircraft, said Wednesday that economic weakness and corporate jet cancellations have pushed first-quarter profit down 31 percent.

The Montreal-based plane and train maker said it earned $158 million, or 9 cents per share, during the quarter ended April 30, down from $229 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue slipped to $4.5 billion from $4.8 billion a year earlier.

"We continue to see abnormally high deferrals and cancellations," said Guy Hachey, President and Chief Operating Officer of Bombardier Aerospace, at an annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday.

Bombardier Chief Executive Pierre Beaudoin said the economic pinch is being felt most in the aerospace division, adding that cancellations for business jets outpaced orders.

"The severe recession affecting most economies worldwide has continued to have a negative impact on our first-quarter financial results," Beaudoin said in statement. "At Bombardier Aerospace, although overall deliveries have held up relatively well during the quarter, cancellations in business aircraft have outpaced the level of new orders."

Bombardier Aerospace had 61 cancellations of business aircraft and delivered 43 business jets compared to 58 last year. The unit sold a total of 75 commercial and business craft in the quarter, down from 87 last year.

"They are seeing the same thing that other business jet manufacturers are seeing," said Cameron Doerksen, an analyst with Versant Partners. "The number of jets they have sitting in inventory, which are brand new but have no customers, have jumped from the last quarter so that's really an indication of the pretty soft conditions they are seeing. They have 25 new and 35 used jets that are sitting in inventory that need to be sold."

Doerksen said there's no sign of a business jet market recovery, and he doesn't expect one any time soon.

Bombardier Aerospace said in early April that it would cut 3,000 jobs, or about 10 percent of its work force, because the demand for its business aircraft had deteriorated rapidly and is expected to remain weak for the foreseeable future.

The cuts came just months after U.S. lawmakers scolded auto executives for flying to Washington in private jets to ask for taxpayer bailouts. Two of the largest makers of general-aviation aircraft -- Cessna, a unit of Providence, R.I.-based Textron, and Hawker Beechcraft -- launched advertising campaigns to tell business executives to ignore criticism and keep buying planes.

Beaudoin said conditions in the rail industry are strong, shielding its transportation division from the main effects of the recession.

Bombardier Transportation, based in Berlin, is one of the world's biggest makers of commuter trains, subway cars and other transit vehicles.

In the first quarter, Bombardier Transportation sales totaled almost $2.3 billion, down from $2.4 billion a year earlier. Earnings before interest and taxes rose to $125 million from $118 million.

Meanwhile, the order backlog stood at $25 billion at the end of April, up from $24.7 billion at the end of January.

Bombardier shares fell 28 Canadian cents (US25 cents) to C$3.59 ($3.27) in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, a drop of 7 percent.

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