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06 May 03. EADS (Paris:EAD.PA – News) posted a wider-than-expected first quarter net loss and a 59 percent drop in operating profit on Tuesday as a slowing airlines sector led to lower deliveries of its planes.

The Company held to a forecast of 300 Airbus deliveries this year, however, and said sales as well as earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were expected to maintain 2002 levels.

“There is no reason for changing our forecast,” said EADS Chief Executives Philippe Camus and Rainer Hertrich in a joint statement. EADS’ net loss widened to €93m ($104.4m) in the first three months of 2003 from a €25m loss in the same period last year, it said in a release ahead of its annual general meeting of shareholders.

EBIT, or operating profit, slumped to €130m on sales down 14 percent to €5.52bn. The figures were below expectations forecast on average a net loss of €67m, EBIT of €223m and sales of €5.63bn.

Airbus, by far the main profit driver at EADS, booked 62 jet deliveries in the first quarter versus 72 a year earlier. First-quarter earnings were also hurt by a weaker U.S. dollar and rising costs from developing its 555-seat A380 superjumbo set to enter service in 2006.

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