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EADS Chief Says 2012 Improvement Continuing Into This Year

EADS CEO Tom Enders
European Aerospace, Defence & Space Co. Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said, “You will see this year there will be a focus at all units to ramp up production.” Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

European Aerospace, Defence & Space Co. will meet or beat earnings and sales goals at its four main units when it reports figures for 2012, helped by demand for Airbus SAS aircraft, Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said.

The Airbus SAS commercial aircraft unit, Cassidian defense business, Astrium space operation and Eurocopter helicopter maker will contribute toward a “very significant improvement” in both the top and the bottom line, Enders told journalists in Paris today. EADS reports full-year 2012 results on Feb. 27.

EADS’s financial performance is largely driven by activities at Airbus, the commercial airliner division. Efforts to gain a better balance suffered a setback when the German government was instrumental in blocking a merger proposal last year with BAE Systems Plc, Europe’s largest defense company. The defeat has driven Enders to review his strategy, an endeavor he aims to complete by the middle of this year.

“You will see this year there will be a focus at all units to ramp up production,” Enders said. Airbus also will be concentrating on achieving the first flight of its new A350 aircraft “as early as possible” in the summer, he said.

EADS rose as much as 64 cents, or 1.9 percent, to 34.95 euros and traded at 34.85 euros at 9:45 a.m. in Paris, the highest since April 3, 2006. The shares have gained 18 percent this year, valuing the company at 28.9 billion euros ($38 billion).

Enders’s strategy review is particularly focused on the defense activities, where growth has been hit by governments including Germany cutting back their military budgets. Cassidian delivered the highest return on sales last year and will continue to lead the group in that regard, Enders said. The management team that Enders put in place last year is doing “a good job” with restructuring efforts, he said.

Headwinds for EADS may come from a variety of areas, Enders said, including political unrest including strife unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa, said Enders, who took over last year. Uncertainty over U.S. budget deliberations and the euro-zone’s financial health also are not entirely over, he said.

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