Bombardier shares dive on profit warning, Airbus A220 writedown

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FILE PHOTO: A Bombardier advertising board is pictured in front of a SBB CFF Swiss railway train at the station in Bern, Switzerland, October 24, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

(Reuters) – Bombardier Inc’s (BBDb.TO) shares fell 37% on Thursday after the company warned of lower 2019 profits and said it might have to write down significantly the value of its partnership with Airbus (AIR.PA) on A220 jets.



Bombardier, which sold control of the A220 to Airbus in 2018 as part of a long-running drive to raise cash and put it on a solid footing, said the venture needed more investment and might be subject to a writedown in fourth quarter results next month.



Under the terms of the deal, Bombardier could oblige Airbus to acquire its 33.58% stake in the program in 2026 for its market value or Airbus could oblige Bombardier to sell the stake.



Airbus, which has a 50.6% stake in the A220 program, said it remained committed to funding the jetliner on its way to profitability.



Bombardier said the program was “winning” with airlines, but latest indications were that it would need more cash to ramp up production, generate lower returns and take longer to break even.



“This may significantly impact the joint venture value,” the Canadian company said. “Bombardier will disclose the amount of any write-down when we complete our analysis and report our final fourth quarter and 2019 financial results.”



Bombardier is in the middle of a broader restructuring, focusing on its more profitable business jet and rail units.



It said delivery of four of its Global 7500 jets, a key revenue driver, had now slipped into the first quarter of 2020.



Faced with lingering problems at several projects in its rail division, Bombardier is weighing if it should direct cash aimed at the partnership toward paying down debt and bolstering rail, said a source familiar with the company’s plans. “It is a cash deployment question,” the source said.



As of November, the Canada province of Quebec held a 16.36% stake in the A220 program.



A spokesman for Quebec’s economy minister declined to comment. Free cash flow for 2019 is expected to be negative $1.2 billion, much lower than previously forecast negative $500 million.



Bombardier now expects 2019 adjusted earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) to be about $400 million, compared with a previously forecast range of between $700 million and $800 million.



The company added it expects to incur a charge of about $350 million in the fourth quarter related to certain UK projects, negotiations with the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and higher production costs in Germany.



Bombardier shares were down about 37% at C$1.13 in early trade.

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