Improving business jet market could offset CSeries duty overhang says analyst
MONTREAL — A recovering business jet market could help Bombardier Inc. to offset the overhang from Boeing’s petition against its CSeries commercial jet, an industry analyst said Wednesday ahead of a second round of duties being slapped on exports to the U.S.“We are pleased with the encouraging signs seen so far, as business jets represent a key driver of Bombardier’s profitability,” Benoit Poirier of Desjardins Capital Markets wrote in a report.He pointed to a webinar conducted Tuesday by analytics and online aerospace trade publication Flightglobal that pointed to improving fundamentals in the business jet market.Poirier said the session indicated that pre-owned aircraft prices are stabilizing and that used plane sales increased 10 per cent in the first half of 2017, pushing inventories back to the level prior to the downturn and flight activity is increasing in the U.S. and Europe.That mirrors data from a JetNet Summit last month which showed that sentiment has improved over the past year but remains below 2014-2015, said analyst Seth Seifman of J.P. Morgan.He said trends in aircraft use and sale of used planes is offset by price weakness.After peaking at 1,136 industry new business jet deliveries in 2008, they dropped to 660 in 2013. Seifman expects them to fall to a low of 630 this year before picking up slightly in 2018.Demand for business jets is normally closely tied to U.S. corporate profits, but not so much since the recession because of excess supply of new planes, the stigma of flying private, low confidence and focus on cost-cutting.Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) is a global leader in business jets, selling Learjets, Challenger and Global aircraft around the world. It is also developing a long-range Global 7000 that is expected to enter service in about a year.Business jets are expected to generate about 35 per cent of Bombardier’s revenues in 2020, up from about 30 per cent in 2017, and about half of the company’s consolidated adjusted EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes).“We remain confident in the company’s ability to further strengthen its leading position in the business jet segment as market conditions continue to improve,” Poirier added.Soon after joining Bombardier in 2015, CEO Alain Bellemare presented the company’s five-year turnaround plan.The Montreal-based company said it expects overall revenues will grow five to six per cent annually to exceed US$25 billion by 2020 with earnings more than doubling to seven to eight per cent.The forecast was delivered long before Boeing filed a petition against the CSeries last April. The Chicago-based company argued that Bombardier sold the jets to U.S.-based Delta Airlines at an unfairly low price with help from government subsidies in Canada.Bombardier has denied the charge but was slapped by the U.S. Department of Commerce with preliminary countervailing duties of 220 per cent. It is expected to announce large preliminary anti-dumping duties on Thursday.A final decision on export duties will depend on a ruling in December by the department or the U.S. International Trade Commission early next year on alleged harm to Boeing.