Airbus pledges profit gain after bribery settlement hit

February 13, 2020

Toulouse, Feb. 13 (BNA): Airbus plunged to a 1.362 billion euro ($1.48 billion) net loss in 2019, weighed down by a multinational bribery settlement, but the European aerospace group pledged to increase operating profit and deliver 880 commercial jets this year.

Full-year adjusted operating income, which excludes the criminal settlement and other one-offs, rose 19% to 6.946 billion euros and should top 7.5 billion euros in 2020, Airbus said. Revenue increased 11% to 70.478 billion euros, Reuters reported.

Airbus turned in a “strong underlying financial performance driven mainly by our commercial aircraft deliveries”, Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said in the company statement.

The group will focus on operational and cost improvements in 2020 as well as “reinforcing our company culture”, he added.

The net loss reflected a 1.212 billion euro charge on the A400M military transporter program as well as a provision for last month’s $4 billion settlement with British, French and U.S. prosecutors over past corrupt practices.

Airbus played down the potential damage from the virus outbreak currently rattling airlines and the broader global economy, endorsing traffic growth forecasts that “assume no major disruptions, including from the coronavirus.”

Raising its proposed dividend by 9% to 1.80 euros per share, Airbus predicted full-year free cash flow of around 4 billion euros, improved from 3.509 billion in 2019.

The long-delayed A400M program delivered 14 planes in 2019, on schedule, but is now hampered by “increasingly challenging” obstacles including repeated extensions to a German export ban on Saudi Arabia, Airbus said.

For the fourth quarter, adjusted operating income fell 9% to 2.813 billion euros, ahead of the 2.736 billion expected by analysts, according to an Airbus consensus poll. Quarterly revenue rose 4% to 24.31 billion euros.