At Textron, Bell Surges while Cessna Struggles

 - April 19, 2012, 5:45 PM

Cessna Aircraft and Bell Helicopter parent company Textron reported first-quarter revenues of $2.9 billion yesterday, up 15.2 percent from a year ago, and $247 million in manufacturing profits, an $80 million increase attributable largely to Bell. While quarterly revenues at Cessna increased by $113 million year-over-year, to $669 million, the division still recorded a loss of $6 million, though the red ink was shallower than the $38 million loss in last year’s first quarter. At Bell, first-quarter revenues soared to $994 million, up $245 million from a year ago, and profit increased by $54 million to $145 million.

Cessna delivered 38 business jets in the quarter, seven more than it did a year ago. However, new aircraft sales did not keep pace with deliveries, with the company logging a 0.75 book-to-bill ratio. Of those sales, most were for jets larger than the CJ4, said Textron chairman and CEO Scott Donnelly, suggesting that light jet sales are still depressed. He also noted that pricing remains “difficult.” Cessna’s backlog as of March 31 was $1.7 billion, down $167 million from December 31.

Bell delivered 30 civil helicopters in the quarter, doubling from the 15 shipped in last year’s first quarter. According to Donnelly, Bell’s segment profit increased thanks to the higher volume and mix of civil aircraft. The helicopter manufacturer’s backlog at the end of the first quarter was $7.1 billion, down $213 million from the end of last year.