Odds and Ends: A350 launch aid; strike at Bombardier biz jets; Embraer demand off; EADS-BAE
A350 Launch Aid: The US Trade Rep says it has the documents outlining $4.5bn in launch aid for the Airbus A350, according to a Reuters story. Predictably, Boeing and the USTR have gone in to overdrive. The A350 was excluded by the WTO from the long-running trade dispute because it wasn’t included in the original complaint filed in 2004–which is kind of obvious since the program didn’t surface until 2006. But Airbus contends that launch aid wasn’t ruled illegal in the WTO findings, just how it was implemented. Airbus contends that any launch aid for the A350 is structured in compliance with the WTO rulings of the 2004 case. The US contends launch aid itself is illegal. Whether it is or it isn’t, we don’t like launch aid or any other form of corporate welfare (see Boeing 787) and we don’t think a solvent company like Airbus (or Boeing) should be getting any.
Bombardier strike at Lear Jet unit: Machinists voted to strike at Bombardier’s Lear Jet unit. BBD hardly needs this. With cash flow demands peaking as the CSeries development enters the final stretch, and with demand for regional airliners off, this is an unneeded headache.
Embraer Demand: Wall Street analysts were pretty unhappy following the Embraer investors day last week. EMB gave no signs of willingness to cut production next year. There are 100 slots and only about 75 orders, with few in sight. Backlog is shrinking. EMB is hoping to land big orders from either Delta Air Lines or American Airlines for the E-Jet, but we’re not aware of any Delta campaign (and in any event, the airline favored the CSeries in the aborted campaign of a year ago). American is in such disarray there is no telling when, or if, it will pursue an order.
EADS-BAE: Bernstein Research doesn’t think this merger should happen. The excerpt from a note issued today:
We believe that it would be best for both companies if this proposed merger does not happen. But, we see the merger as worse for EADS than for BAE. Both companies describe scale as an advantage (e.g. better leverage of R&D), but we have never seen scale in itself as an advantage. Specific issues are:
- Shareholder interests. EADS shareholders typically own the stock as a play on commercial aircraft OE growth through Airbus. Increasing the scale of defense assets, with some in particularly challenging markets, is likely to take some investors out of the stock. We find BAE Systems shareholders as generally focusing on the high dividend. The combination with EADS, which does not pay a high dividend, places the current BAE Systems dividend level at risk in 2014. The disclosure of merger discussions also raises questions about the sustainability of cash flow and the divided, as we have found investors questioning why BAE would accept the EADS offer if its cash outlook were robust. BAE Systems CEO Ian King has countered this by stating (with EADS CEO Tom Enders) that this deal is “borne out of opportunity, not necessity”.
- Synergy potential. We view the potential synergies between EADS and BAE Systems as low given very little overlap between their businesses and restrictions in technology transfer from US programs. From an EADS standpoint, we expect that this combination would result in a stronger international marketing organization, provide some limited cost savings in indirect personnel and sourcing, and provide some improvement for the defense electronics portion of EADS’ Cassidian business (only about 2 billion euros in revenue). But, given the limitations in capturing these synergies and their relatively small size, we do not see them as justifying a merger of this scale. For EADS, this is particularly true, since it would pay a premium for BAE shares and be buying into some particularly difficult market exposure (e.g. US Army equipment, defense IT/services). In addition, we see disruption as inevitable in a deal of this size, as it could lead to a loss of some key personnel, changes in government relationships, and problematic integration steps (e.g. IT Systems), even though the overlap is relatively small.