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Jun 9, 2020

Bombardier, once a Canadian champion, faces ouster from TSX

Notable Calls: Bombardier, Chevron and Continental Resources

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Bombardier Inc. is facing the boot from Canada’s main index as it slides toward irrelevance for equity investors.

The manufacturer’s share price has been below $1 since early March, potentially making it ineligible to stay in the S&P/TSX Composite Index and in turn the S&P/TSX 60 Index of large companies.

To be included in the composite, a company must have a minimum volume-weighted average price of $1 over the previous three months, as well as over the last 10 trading days of the month prior to the index provider’s quarterly review, according to S&P Dow Jones index methodology.

For Bombardier, that average price is now sitting at about 53 Canadian cents for the three months leading up to June.

A departure from the index could hurt demand for Bombardier’s shares as exchange-traded funds drop the stock. Other managers must also decide whether to keep the shares. “A portfolio manager must determine how closely they want to track the index and make a call on number of shares,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst George Ferguson.

Bombardier is aware of the guidelines for index inclusion but it won’t speculate on whether it will be removed in the upcoming review, Jessica McDonald, a company representative said.

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S&P Dow Jones Indices releases its quarterly review within the first ten days of the rebalancing month, which would be June 12, spokesman Raymond McConville said.

Bombardier’s shares have continued their downward spiral despite a corporate revamp initiated by former chief executive officer Alain Bellemare. The stock has lost almost all of its value in 20 years.

The Montreal-based company was once seen as a Canadian champion of the industrial sector and a source of pride for Quebec.

It made everything from snowmobiles to commercial aircraft but is now a shadow of its former self after ceding its marquee jet program, now known as the A220, to Airbus SE and agreeing to sell its rail business to French train maker Alstom SA in the face of more than $10 billion in debt.

The company’s market capitalization peaked at $36.2 billion (US$27 billion) in the summer of 2000. Today it’s $1.4 billion.

Bellemare’s restructuring means Bombardier has made an all-in bet on the corporate jet market. That left the company, now led by Eric Martel, particularly exposed as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered travel globally and slashed corporate spending.

Still, it’s possible that sales of private jets, which allow for physical distancing among passengers, may come back faster than commercial travel.

The company’s shares jumped as much as 28 per cent Tuesday after Bank of Nova Scotia upgraded its stock rating to the equivalent of a hold.

Analyst Konark Gupta said in a report he sees “some green shoots” in the macro and industry indicators he monitors. Bombardier’s share price, which was at $0.64 as of 10:40 a.m. in Toronto, is still far from the criteria to stay included on the S&P/TSX Composite.

Last week, the company announced that it plans to eliminate 2,500 jobs at its aviation division following a slump in demand for business jets. In quarterly financial results released May 7, Bombardier said it’s bracing for a drop of at least 30 per cent in sales of private jets as the crisis pummels demand this year.

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