EADS First-Quarter Profit Rises on Airbus Delivery Growth

European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. posted higher first-quarter earnings as its Airbus unit more than doubled profit on higher deliveries of commercial jets.

Earnings before interest, tax and one-time items rose 56 percent to 741 million euros ($963 million), while Airbus profit on that basis increased to 608 million euros, EADS said in a statement today. Profit at EADS exceeded an estimate for 607 million euros in a survey of analysts by Bloomberg. The company maintained its outlook for this year.

“On the operational side, we had a rather good start into 2013 with improved revenues and profitability” Chief Executive Tom Enders said. “Management continues to focus on improving the bottom line performance in 2013 and beyond.”

The 54-year-old German, who formerly ran Airbus, took the EADS top job a year ago, setting a target to deliver a double-digit return on sales by 2015. In his first few months he failed to construct a merger with BAE Systems Plc and transformed the shareholder structure, increasing the number of freely traded shares and reducing government control.

EADS rose as much as 84 cents, or 2 percent, to 42.04 euros, and traded at 41.94 euros as of 9:07 a.m. in Paris. The stock has gained 42 percent this year, while Boeing Co. is up 26 percent.

Free cash flow before acquisitions was negative 3.2 billion euros, compared with negative 1.2 billion in the year-earlier quarter. EADS said the trend reflects the ramp-up in working capital at Airbus and its Eurocopter helicopter business. Total sales rose 9 percent to 12.4 billion euros.

The company kept its guidance from February for “moderate growth” in sales, given planned lower deliveries of A380s, and said it was targeting Ebit before one-time items of 3.5 billion euros this year. It forecast earnings per share before one-time items of about 2.50 euros, prior to a proposed share buyback.

The A350 program for a new wide-body aircraft to compete with Boeing’s 787 and 777 jets “remains challenging,” EADS said today. The planemaker’s first flyable A350 rolled out of the paint shop yesterday as engineers prepare for its maiden flight in coming weeks.

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