In his annual letter to shareholders published early last month, investment mogul Warren Buffett said earnings improved last year at Berkshire Hathaway’s flight services division, which includes FlightSafety International (FSI) and NetJets. Last year the unit saw its pre-tax profits rise to $191 million on revenues of $3.24 billion, up substantially from the previous year’s $72 million profit on revenues of $2.43 billion.
EBITDA stands for “earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.” In the acquisition world, businesses are valued by a multiple of their EBITDA. The buzz lately is that FBOs are popular among some aggressive private equity funds, and that has led to sales on the order of eight or nine times EBITDA–a rising trend that many say cannot continue.
The panel discussion on brokers addressed the concern that anyone with a laptop computer and a cellphone could “broker” travel on chartered business jets. Fred Gevalt, founder of The Air Charter Guide, said a good start would be to register charter brokers with the U.S. Department of Transportation, a safeguard that he asserted would eliminate 60 percent of the Internet dabblers.
Business aircraft and large charter operators may start seeing reduced insurance premium rates within the next few months, if they haven’t already. According to various brokers, insurance premiums for certain segments of the business aircraft and charter market have fallen by 25 percent or more in the past six to 12 months.
What does Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan have to do with the market value of Mitsubishi MU-2s?
The Rhode Island division of taxation issued a revised regulation regarding the application of a user tax to noncommercial aircraft in the state. The new regulation clarifies many of the uncertainties created by the previous emergency regulation, such as making it clear that the tax applies only to noncommercial aircraft exceeding specified operating limits within the state.
UK-based Twinjet has forged an alliance with Russian aerospace export agency Aviaexport to sell used business jets in Russia. While conceding that heavy taxes on the importation of foreign-built aircraft will make the sales task harder, Twinjet managing director John Keeble asserted that long-term prospects for the Russian market are promising.
The momentum that began to build in the used jet market late last summer is rolling into this year. Overall inventory is about where it was a year ago, but after a significant month-over-month build-up through July, sales activity heightened and just as quickly reversed direction. Between August and the middle of last month, roughly 100 more aircraft departed the market than arrived.
Health and security assistance provider MedAire disclosed that its two largest shareholders have reached a letter of agreement “outlining mutual goals and strategies in relation to the direction and control of MedAire” that would effectively place control of the company in the hands of its largest competitor, International SOS (ISOS).
Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett, in his latest annual letter to shareholders issued Saturday, said the company’s flight services division–FlightSafety and NetJets–reported $120 million in pre-tax earnings versus $191 million in 2004. According to Buffett, “Earnings improved at FlightSafety as corporate aviation continued its rebound…[but] operating results at NetJets were a different story.