30 Apr 15. Airbus Group (stock exchange symbol: AIR) reported robust first quarter 2015 results with improved cash flow and confirmed its full year guidance.
“We had a good start into 2015, with a solid operational performance and improved cash generation, further supported by asset sales,” said Tom Enders, Airbus Group Chief Executive Officer. “We are on track to achieve our full year targets due to both the continued focus on programme management and the implementation of our core strategy. We will review capital allocation towards the end of the year as we progress on the A350 ramp up, A320 transition and our divestments, while the order book provides a strong platform for future growth.”
Group order intake(1) in the quarter was €21 billion (Q1 2014: €21 billion), with the order book(1) value rising to € 955 billion as of 31 March 2015 (year-end 2014: €858 billion) taking into account a positive revaluation linked to the strengthening of the US dollar. Airbus received 101 net commercial aircraft orders in the quarter (Q1 2014: 103 net orders), including 34 A330 Family aircraft. Airbus Helicopters received 86 net orders (Q1 2014: 78 units), including 49 H145s and 19 H175s, while in April the H225M Caracal was preselected by Poland for the test phase of its multi-role military helicopter tender. Order intake by value at Airbus Defence and Space rose 16 percent, with good momentum seen for military aircraft including seven light and medium transport aircraft.
Group revenues totalled €12.1 billion (Q1 2014: €12.6 billion), mainly reflecting the phasing of deliveries at Commercial Aircraft which are expected to be back-loaded in 2015, especially for the A350 XWB and A380. A total of 134 commercial airplanes were delivered (Q1 2014: 141 units), including one A350 XWB and four A380s. Commercial Aircraft’s revenues totalled €8.6 billion with favourable foreign exchange mitigating the lower delivery volume. Helicopters’ revenues of €1.3 billion reflect the ramp-up in government programmes with total deliveries of 62 units (Q1 2014: 74 units). Defence and Space’s revenues of €2.6 billion mainly reflect the deconsolidation of launcher revenues with the creation of the Airbus Safran Launchers Joint Venture (JV) while two A400Ms were delivered, including the first aircraft for export customer Malaysia.
Group EBIT* before one-off(3) – an indicator capturing the underlying business margin by excluding material non-recurring charges or profits caused by movements in provisions related to programmes and restructurings or foreign exchange impacts – was €651 million (Q1 2014: €700 million). Commercial Aircraft’s EBIT* before one-off increased to €569 million (Q1 2014: €527 million), driven by operational improvement and favourable cost phasing including research and development (R&D) expenses. Helicopters’ EBIT* before one-off decreased slightly to € 52 million (Q1 2014: € 58 million), due to a less favourable revenue mix but was supported by the Division’s transformation plan. Defence and Space’s EBIT* before one-off was €90 million (Q1 2014: €85 million), supported by progress in the Division’s restructuring plan. Headquarters’ EBIT* before one-off was lower compared to a year earlier and included an adjustment to the 2014 Dassault Aviation result. Group self-financed R&D expenses totalled € 701 million (Q1 2014: €727 million) while the Group EBIT* before one-off return on sales was 5.4 percent (Q1 2014: 5.5 percent).
The production ramp-up on the A350 XWB programme is ongoing, with the second aircraft delivered to Qatar Airways as planned. The A320neo programme remains on schedule, with the initial aircraft equipped with CFM engines rolled out earlier this month. The A380 programme is on track to reach breakeven this year. The new H160 was unveiled in the quarter as part of Helicopters’ product renewal strategy. Airbus Safran Launchers started operations during the first quarter and preparations are being made for the JV’s second phase.
Reported EBIT*(3) increased 73 percent to €1,241 million (Q1 2014: €719 million) and was boosted by net positive one-offs of €590 million. This comprised a €697 million net gain from the sale of an additional 17.5% stake in Dassault Aviation(5),, a gain of €43 million linked to the creation of the launcher JV’s first phase and a €150 million net charge from the dollar pre-delivery payment mismatch and balance sheet revaluation.
Net income(4) increased by 80 percent to €792 million (Q1 2014: €439 million), while earnings per share (EPS) rose by the same amount to €1.01 (Q1 2014: €0.56). The finance result was €-366 million (Q1 2014: €-107 million) and included negative one-offs of €229 million from foreign exchange revaluation linked to the weakening of the euro.
As of 31 March 2015, the hedge portfolio was worth $ 94.0 billion after adding new hedge contracts of $11.4 billion in the quarter at an average rate of €1 = $ 1.21. The accounting mark-to-market value of the hedge book was €-13.4 billion based on a closing rate of €1 = $1.08.
Airbus Group will prepare stand-alone N.V. statutory accounts under IFRS as of 1 January 2015. Airbus Group’s management considers that the recognition of investments at cost less impairment in the Airbus Group N.V. company financial statements is a more appropriate approach to provide a fair insight into the company’s financial position with regard to the determination of distributable equity and complements the IFRS Airbus Group Consolidated Financial Statements.
Free cash flow before mergers and acquisitions improved significantly to €-1,136 million (Q1 2014: €-2,060 million), reflecting the continued focus on cash control while proceeds of around €1.6 billion from the sale of Dassault Aviation shares boosted total free cash flow to €452 million (Q1 2014: €-2,034 million). The net cash position at the end of March 2015 was €9.5 billion (year-end 2014: €9.1 billion) with a gross cash position of €17.3 billion (year-end 2014: €16.4 billion).
As the basis for its 2015 guidance, Airbus Group expects the world economy and air traffic to grow in line with prevailing independent forecasts and assumes no major disruptions. Airbus deliveries should be slightly higher than in 2014, and the commercial aircraft order book is again expected to grow. In 2015, before mergers & acquisitions (M&A), Airbus Group expects an increase in revenues and targets a slight increase in EBIT* before one-off. Based on its current view of the industrial ramp-up, Airbus Group targets breakeven free cash flow in 2015 before M&A. Airbus Group targets its EPS and dividend per share to increase further in 2015.
* Airbus Group uses EBIT pre-goodwill impairment and exceptionals as a key indicator of its economic performance. The term “exceptionals” refers to such items as depreciation expenses of fair value adjustments relating to the former EADS merger and Airbus Combination, as well as impairment charges thereon.