Airbus management seek to halt share price slide

Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:47am EST
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By Victoria Bryan and Blaise Robinson

BERLIN/PARIS (Reuters) - Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) sought to reassure investors on Thursday by promising profit growth beyond 2017 and healthy dividends after its shares continued a slide begun on Wednesday when it warned of flat 2016 earnings.

Investors also worried about a cut in production rates for the A330 as Airbus moves to a newer version of the wide-bodied plane, dubbed the A330neo, and as it ramps up production of its new A350.

"Yes, there is a risk the rate will come down, but this is not the point," Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm said during the second day of an investor event in London.

"The point is that this is the way forward for the neo that will then ramp up and that will provide a clear bridge into profitability."

Shares in Airbus fell 4 percent on Thursday, adding to a 10.4 percent drop in the previous session, their worst performance in more than six years.

The Wednesday plunge represented a wipeout in the company's market value of 3.9 billion euros ($4.9 billion), roughly the price of a dozen Airbus A380 jumbo jets.

Airbus sales chief John Leahy sought to ease fears of slightly lower margins on the A320 single-aisle plane by saying Airbus was currently commanding a premium price for the A320neo and that the price for the older version was holding steady.

Wilhelm added divestments would boost dividends as the group embarks on a program to streamline its defense and space portfolio. [ID:nL6N0TV28B]   Continued...

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