Cessna Still Shines Brightly at Textron

 - October 16, 2008, 11:50 AM

While Textron this morning said its finance unit dragged down income in the third quarter, dropping year-over-year from $225 million to $210 million, revenue and profit at its Cessna Aircraft division increased by $150 million and $16 million, respectively, over the same three-month period last year. The Wichita-based aircraft manufacturer delivered 124 jets in the quarter (“an all-time quarterly high”), compared with 103 in the third quarter last year, and expects to ship about 140 business jets in the current fourth quarter. Cessna’s backlog remains strong at $15.6 billion, up $3 billion from the end of last year, reflecting orders for 484 jets taken year-to-date. However, Textron chairman, president and CEO Lewis Campbell said weakening economic conditions did hurt sales in the third quarter–orders for only 47 jets were placed in July, August and September–though order cancellations are virtually absent. In fact, Lewis sees a silver lining in the sluggish orders, allowing Cessna to work down the backlog and decrease the order-to-delivery lag time, which is now typically three or four years. Like other business jet manufacturers, Cessna has received an increasing number of international orders–in fact, 68 percent of its booked orders come from non-U.S. customers. Europe accounts for half of Cessna’s international orders, with the balance coming from Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.