* German loan suspension weighs on cash flow
* Spat reflects resurgent rivalries over Airbus
* Quarterly earnings rise 67 pct, beat forecasts
* Airbus may miss A380 sales target, keeps delivery goal
By Tim Hepher and Cyril Altmeyer
PARIS, Nov 8 EADS blamed a funding row
with Germany for contributing to a 3 billion euro cash outflow
so far this year, which put a blot on the Airbus parent's
stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings on Thursday and hit
Finance Director Harald Wilhelm said the European group was
in talks with Germany's government over its decision to withhold
a development loan for the Airbus A350, which officials say is
in protest at the share of jobs on the $15 billion project.
The company's claim came as a Reuters investigation into
resurgent political tensions over the world's largest planemaker
found that France has an unusually large share of 42 percent of
work on the next-generation A350, compared with Germany's one
The mismatch, which includes work by top suppliers, has
added fuel to industrial discord with France that may have
carried weight in Berlin's recent decision to block a merger of
Airbus parent EADS and BAE Systems.
German officials have accused EADS of failing to deliver on
promises over the "workshare" on the A350, due to enter service
in 2014 in competition with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
Other sources say Airbus maintains the opposite is the case.
EADS and Airbus declined to comment.
In its first trading update since calling off plans to merge
with Britain's BAE last month, Franco-German-led EADS said the
A350 aircraft programme remained "challenging" even though
engineers had resolved a recent wing-drilling problem.
In an effort to placate investors who had attacked the
merger plan for diluting strong sales at Airbus, Wilhelm said
the bid to create the world's largest defence company had not
indicated any doubts about the strength of the commercial cycle.
He said Airbus would, however, struggle to reach its target
of selling 30 A380s this year, while sticking to its target of
delivering 30 of the double-decker passenger planes.
CASH FLOW TARGET
EADS posted a 67 percent rise in third-quarter operating
profit to 537 million euros on sales of 12.324 billion euros, up
15 percent, compared with average analyst forecasts of 454
million operating profit and revenues of 11.853 billion.
EADS maintained its forecast of an increase of at least 10
percent in annual revenues and still expected to deliver a 2012
operating profit of 2.7 billion euros.
But it disappointed some analysts by toning down its annual
cash flow forecast to break even at best, rather than a
"positive" cash flow forecast embedded in its half-year results.
The company burned through 3.2 billion euros in the first
nine months, which sent its shares down more than 4 percent.
The A350 funding shortfall concerns Berlin's share -
estimated at 1.2 billion euros - of development loans usually
provided by four European countries.
The use of such loans is fiercely contested by the United
States in a long-running trade dispute with Europe, but is now a
source of tension between Germany and France whose prime
minister has urged Berlin to pay up.
"We would have appreciated to receive the cash but I don't
want to comment any further on contractual discussions," Wilhelm
told reporters on a conference call.
Airbus has begun assembling the first carbon-composite A350
ahead of its maiden flight next year, a phase requiring
significant spending on tools and parts.
"Airbus will need all the cash it can get to fund A350,"
said Agency Partners analyst Nick Cunningham.
Chief Executive Tom Enders said in a statement the group
would put "strong emphasis" on cash generation for the rest of
the year and that aircraft deliveries would be key.
Besides the German loan row, EADS has seen some of its cash
eaten up by a backlog of A380 superjumbos waiting for delivery
following delays caused by wing cracks early this year. The
company has also made pre-emptive inventory purchases as a
buffer against possible supply chain problems, Wilhelm said.
Europe's largest aerospace company still has a net cash pile
on its balance sheet of 8.1 billion euros.