Bombardier and Textron business jet backlogs swell but supply chain headwinds loom

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(Reuters) -Bombardier Inc and rival Textron Inc (NYSE:TXT) on Thursday reported growing backlogs for corporate aircraft as demand for private flights soars, but company executives warned of supply chain headwinds.

Executives from both companies told analysts they see corporate aircraft activity picking up in Europe, adding to a U.S. surge in demand that has filled seats for private operators and boosted plane pricing after orders slipped last year due to COVID-19.

Cessna business jet maker Textron raised its full-year earnings per share and cash guidance, after General Dynamics Corp (NYSE:GD)’s Gulfstream Aerospace said on Wednesday its business jet backlog reached a six-year high.

Corporate planemakers, eager to take advantage of strong demand, are taking steps to mitigate the impact of global supply chain disruptions, including supply and pricing of raw materials, logistics and labor shortages among smaller suppliers.

While Bombardier (OTC:BDRBF) has not faced any assembly line interruptions, the business jet maker is taking steps to deploy more staff to suppliers’ sites “to maintain clear visibility,” Chief Executive Eric Martel said.

Montreal-based Bombardier earlier posted a smaller third quarter-loss largely in line with analysts’ estimates and generated $100 million in free cash from operations, a metric closely watched by investors, reversing negative usage from last year.

Bombardier’s backlog increased by about $500 million to $11.2 billion, while Textron Aviation reported a backlog of $3.5 billion at quarter-end, up $1.9 billion year to date.

Textron said the company is ramping up business aircraft manufacturing toward a goal of hitting 2019 production levels. Bombardier has not announced any changes to rates as it balances supply chain capacity, demand and pricing.

U.S.-based Textron reported adjusted earnings per share of 85 cents, beating analysts’ estimates of 78 cents a share, according to data from Refinitiv, but missed on revenue.

Textron shares were up 3% at $72.88, while Bombardier stock rose 2.37% in morning trade.

Bombardier recently unveiled an upscale variant of its Challenger 350 business jet as it vies to protect its dominant midsized market share.

Martel said recent announcements of two new large-cabin models from Gulfstream would spare the Challenger.

“I think our competitor now just positioned themselves right at the top of that segment leaving a lot of room in the midsized segment for us,” he said.

Bombardier posted an adjusted net loss of 4 cents per share in the quarter, compared with a loss of 9 cents per share a year earlier. Analysts were expecting a loss of 5 cents per share, according to Refinitiv.

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