By Olivia Bugault

 

Airbus SE said Thursday that it expects higher earnings and aircraft deliveries this year while it posted better-than-expected results in its fourth quarter and decided to restore dividends.

At 1128GMT, shares at Airbus trade 1% lower at EUR116.68.

The European plane maker said it expects to deliver 720 commercial jets this year, up from 611 in 2021, and it is targeting adjusted earnings before interest and taxes of 5.5 billion euros ($6.26 billion), which compares with EUR4.87 billion last year. Free cash flow before mergers and acquisitions and customer financing should be around EUR3.5 billion this year, it said.

Its outlook is based on the assumption that there will be no further disruptions "to the world economy, air traffic, the company's internal operations, and its ability to deliver products and services," it specified.

Airbus's 2022 forecast is "a touch below expectations," Jefferies says, but several analysts noted that Airbus tends to be conservative in its views.

For its fourth quarter, Airbus posted a net profit of EUR1.58 billion compared with EUR1.55 billion in the same period a year earlier. Revenue fell 14% to EUR16.99 billion due to fewer plane deliveries, as well as lower revenue from its helicopters as well as defense and space divisions, it said.

Airbus's more closely watched adjusted EBIT fell 18% to EUR1.5 billion, it said.

Though lower on year, fourth-quarter results beat market expectations as analysts expected revenue at EUR16.88 billion and adjusted EBIT at EUR1.36 billion, according to a consensus provided by the company.

At the end of 2021, Airbus reported free cash flow before mergers and acquisitions and customer financing of EUR3.52 billion. That compares to a negative free cash flow of EUR6.94 billion at the end of 2020 and the company's own guidance of roughly EUR2.5 billion for 2021.

Airbus also posted record profit in its full-year, with a net income of EUR4.21 billion, compared with a net loss of EUR1.13 billion the year prior.

The company also said it would restart distributing dividends after an interruption of two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a proposed dividend of EUR1.5 a share for 2021.

Regarding the production ramp-up for its A320 family of narrow-body jets, Airbus is still considering a rate above 65 per month beyond 2023, it said. Airbus previously said that it would raise production to 65 per month by summer 2023 while it was studying a potential increase to up to 75 per month by 2025. Rates of 70 or 75 per month make sense and Airbus should make a decision at mid-year for 2024 and 2025 production rates, its chief executive officer Guillaume Faury said during a call with journalists.

The company isn't affected by disruptions in its supply chain at the moment and it continues to increase production as planned, though it faces a complex environment with difficulties related to cost of energy, raw materials and staff recruitment, Mr. Faury said.

 

Write to Olivia Bugault at olivia.bugault@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 17, 2022 07:05 ET (12:05 GMT)

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