Airbus Group, formerly EADS, reported on Tuesday a near doubling ofquarterly net profit, strong helicopter activity, but a fall in new orders after anexceptional performance last year.Net profit for the quarter rose by 93.0 percent to 439 million euros ($604.5 million).The price of shares in the group rose by 4.38 percent to 51.66 euros in early tradingin Paris. The overall French market as measured by the CAC 40 index was up 0.20percent.The value of orders taken fell by more than half to 21.1 billion euros from 49.5billion euros.This reflected orders taken for 103 aircraft on a net basis, after allowing forcancellations.That was far short of the figure of 410 in the first quarter of 2013 which was anexceptional year for aircraft manufacturers, notably Airbus and its main US rivalBoeing.
Last year was a boom period for airliner manufacturers as airlines rushed to renewtheir fleets after the financial crisis and in readiness for a forecast boom in airtravel, mainly in emerging economies led by countries in Asia.
Airbus has already said that it will not be able to match the 2013 figures for orderstaken.However, Airbus Group held to its forecast that orders taken this year would exceedthe number of aircraft delivered, and that its operating margin would be 7.0-8.0percent in 2015.The forecast for the margin would be a marked increase on the figure for the first
quarter, of in the first three months of 5.5 percent.Chief executive Tom Enders has made raising profitability a key target to satisfyinvestors, having increased the percentage of shares liable to be traded on the openmarket to 70 percent.This is a consequence of a capital reorganisation last year involving the progressivewithdrawal of the three states which founded the group, France, Germany and Spain.- Earnings per share double The group said that the overall performance meant that earnings per share haddoubled from 28 euro cents to 56 cents.The Airbus aircraft division accounts for two thirds of group sales.Sales revenue by the group, which also has wide interests in the aerospace sectorfrom making helicopters to satellite equipment, fell by 5.0 percent in the quarterfrom the equivalent figure last year to 12.6 billion euros.For the whole of this year, the group is forecasting a sales revenue total about inline with the figure last year of 59.3 billion euros.Airbus results are highly sensitive to the exchange rate of the euro, and financedirector Harald Wilhelm said the group was giving this sales revenue outlook even if
the value of the euro varied between $1.35 and $1.40.Meanwhile, Airbus Helicopters, formerly Eurocopter, increased its number of orderstaken by half.Airbus Helicopters also increased the number of aircraft delivered to 74 from 58,and so raised sales by 14.0 percent.The Airbus Defence and Space division, grouping the two activities formerly knownas Astrium and Cassidian, held new orders at about the previous level.Enders said that the group was holding to its forecasts but still had much to do bythe end of the year, with the emphasis being on applying restructuring programmes.The company is due to put its new A350 airliner into service by the end of the year.This aircraft is a long-haul plane with a fuselage made of composite materials.The group changed its name to Airbus Group at the beginning of this year in amajor refocusing of activities after a failed attempt to merge with British group BAESystems.It is now restructuring its defence and space activities to face increasedinternational competition at a time of cuts in defence budgets by governments inthe West.Wilhelm assured that the order book and the outlook for new orders not yetregistered was strong, telling a telephone press conference that he was not worriedby "one weaker quarter for orders taken compared with the performance of Boeing.At stock brokers Aurel BG in Paris, analysts said that Airbus had published solidresults with sales exceeding expectations. They noted that the group had fallenbehind Boeing in recent months but remained confident.