* Q4 loss/share 23 cents vs. yr-earlier loss of 86 cents
* Revenue down 20.7 pct
* Sees 2010 EPS 30-50 cents ex-items, below Street view
* Shares down 6 pct (Recasts first paragraph to include 2010 expectations, business jet demand; updates stock action)
By Scott Malone
BOSTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Textron Inc TXT.N reported a net loss for the fourth quarter and set a 2010 profit target that fell well below Wall Street’s expectations, signaling that demand for corporate jets would remain weak.
The world’s largest maker of business aircraft said on Thursday that sales would fall again at Cessna and warned that unit would likely post a first-quarter operating loss, with shipments unlikely to pick up until later in the year.
The company said its finance arm -- which it is scaling back to focus on lending money to support the sale of Textron products, which also include Bell helicopters, military vehicles and EZ-Go golf carts -- could report a $250 million operating loss for the year.
The diversified U.S. manufacturer expects a 2010 profit of 30 cents to 50 cents per share, excluding 6 cents per share of special charges for a Cessna restructuring, on about $10.8 billion in revenue.
Analysts, on average, had looked for profit of 82 cents per share on $10.52 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Goldman Sachs analyst Noah Poponak called the forecast “substantially lower than consensus and our expectations.”
Textron shares were down 6 percent to $19.75 in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The company said full-year Cessna revenue would drop about 10 percent to $3 billion, with most of that coming in the latter part of the year.
Chief Executive Scott Donnelly said demand for corporate jets -- which became something of a symbol of corporate excess during the recession -- was leveling off after a sharp drop.
“We still have work to do at Cessna on our costs, but we have seen the market stabilize,” Donnelly told investors on a conference call.
The picture is brighter at Bell helicopters, where the company looks for revenue growth of about 18 percent. It forecast more modest sales growth at its Textron Systems military vehicle arm and at the industrial unit.
Textron reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $63 million, or 23 cents per share, narrower than its prior-year loss of $209 million, or 86 cents per share.
Revenue fell 20.7 percent to $2.81 billion.
The Providence, Rhode Island-based company has scrambled to cut costs over the past year, eliminating more than 20 percent of staff and drawing down its entire line of credit to protect liquidity.
Textron’s rivals include the Gulfstream unit of General Dynamics Corp GD.N and Canada’s Bombardier Inc BBDb.TO in corporate jets, and United Technologies Corp UTX.N in helicopters.
The company’s shares are up 63 percent over the past year, sharply outpacing the 30 percent rise of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index .SPX. (Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Derek Caney, Maureen Bavdek, Tim Dobbyn)