Airbus shares slide 10 percent after 2016 profit warning

Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:32pm EST
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By Victoria Bryan and Tim Hepher

BERLIN/GENEVA (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) shares slid 10.4 percent on Wednesday, their worst drubbing in more than six years, after the planemaker predicted flat profits in 2016, surprising investors who had expected new and recently upgraded models to start boosting results that year.

The world's second-largest planemaker after Boeing (BA.N: Quote) was also forced to call off a ceremony planned for Saturday to deliver its new A350 jetliner to Qatar Airways after the Gulf airline said it was delaying the handover indefinitely.

Analysts said the rebuff from the airline, famously picky about accepting new aircraft and widely believed to use such tactics to obtain last-minute concessions, was overshadowed by concerns over the model it replaces, the A330.

Airbus, which has already announced plans to cut A330 production by 10 percent to nine aircraft a month, said it would have to cut production again in 2016 to an unspecified level.

That follows slow progress in finding buyers for the current model ahead of a mid-term upgrade called A330neo in 2017, as well as a sharp output ramp-up for the all-new A350.

"The most critical years are 2016 and 2017," Chief Executive Tom Enders told analysts at an investor conference.

Airbus said core operating income would return to growth in 2017. Some analysts had expected double-digit improvements as early as 2016.

Airbus shares tumbled 10.4 percent, the biggest one-day percentage fall since July 2008, to close at 43.175 euros, their lowest close since mid-October.   Continued...

Airbus's company logo is pictured at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, December 4, 2014.  REUTERS/ Regis Duvignau