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Apr 25, 2019

​Bombardier sinks after slashing forecast on new rail-unit woes

Bombardier warns on sales, slashes full-year forecast

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MONTREAL -- Bombardier Inc. (BBDb.TO) cut its revenue and profit forecast for 2019, citing production problems at its train-making unit and triggering a plunge in the company's shares as analysts questioned the company's credibility.

The company's stock plummeted 15 per cent to close at $2.48 on Thursday.

Bombardier, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, said it now expects full-year revenues to be approximately US$17 billion, roughly $1 billion lower than originally anticipated.

Most of the shortfall stems from the transportation unit, where revenue is expected to be about $750 million -- or 11 per cent -- lower due to "slower production ramp-up on certain large projects" as well as unfavourable currency impact, Bombardier said.

"We had a soft first quarter driven by the timing of aircraft deliveries, foreign exchange headwind and a slower production ramp-up at Transportation," chief executive Alain Bellemare in a statement.

Analyst Walter Spracklin of RBC Capital Markets said the news is "a call on credibility" for the company's turnaround plan, which has taken "another step back" after an unexpectedly weak third quarter last year.

"From our perspective, the explanation seems to make sense, though we were surprised that the company would warn on 2019 so early after providing guidance -- we believe this amplifies the uncertainty and predictability around the company's operations," Spracklin said in a note to investors.

Benoit Poirier, an analyst with Desjardins Securities, also highlighted questions around the five-year plan, set to wrap up next year.

"We believe investors will question the (free cash flow) guidance for 2019 as well as overall 2020 guidance," he said in a note.

Legacy contracts continue to drag down the train unit's numbers due to higher costs. The train unit's margin for earnings before interest and tax is still expected to hit an industry-leading eight per cent this year, BMO Capital Markets analyst Fadi Chamoun said in a research note.

"The reduction in full-year guidance and lingering issues on several contracts at Transportation are clearly disappointing, but we continue to believe that these challenges will largely be resolved this year and we remain confident in 2020 margin and free cash flow improvement," wrote Cameron Doerksen of National Bank Financial.

Bellemare said Bombardier's business jet forecast remains unchanged, with revenues of about $6.25 billion on between 150 and 155 business aircraft this year.

Revenue at Bombardier's commercial aircraft business is predicted to be $250 million lower due to an earlier-than-anticipated closing of the sale of its business aircraft training business and the Q400 program. The company now has 30 commercial planes on track for delivery instead of the 35 previously predicted.

The Montreal-based company's expectations for adjusted earnings before interest and taxes were also reduced by about $150 million due to the transportation division.

Adjusted EBIT are now expected to come in between $1 billion and $1.15 billion compared with earlier expectations for between $1.15 billion and $1.25 billion.

Delays and repair problems have plagued contracts with Bombardier's train division, its highest grossing unit, over the past few months.

Bombardier announced a leadership shakeup at the troubled train unit in February, naming Danny Di Perna as the new head to replace Laurent Troger, who took on the role in December 2015.

Bombardier is expected to release its full first-quarter financial results on May 2.