Bombardier's 2018 revenue forecast disappoints, shares fall

(Reuters) - Bombardier Inc said on Thursday it was hopeful that it might turn free cash flow positive next year even as the ailing company forecast 2018 revenue that fell far short of expectations.

A Bombardier flag flutters amidst storm clouds at the Singapore Airshow at Changi Exhibition Center February 18, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su

Shares in Bombardier were down 1.9 percent in late morning trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The loss-making plane and train maker said it expected to deliver 25 more commercial aircraft next year, compared with 2017 projections.

“The turnaround story continues to unfold as laid out by management, which incrementally continues on the path to rebuilding credibility,” AltaCorp Capital analyst Chris Murray wrote in a note.

Bombardier is in the middle of a five-year turnaround plan to cut costs and boost margins after years of heavy investments in two aircraft programs pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy in 2015.

In October, the company agreed to sell a controlling stake in its CSeries jetliner program - struggling with ballooning costs and delays - to Airbus SE.

Bombardier said on Thursday that it expects free cash flow to breakeven in 2018, plus or minus $150 million, and earnings before interest, tax and special items between $800 million and $900 million.

The company expects revenue to rise to $17.0 billion to $17.5 billion next year.

While that is below the average market estimate of $18.37 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, the midpoint of the range is $1 billion more than the revenue that Bombardier expects to earn this year, it said.

Bombardier, which is scheduled to hold its investor day at 3:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, said it was targeting revenue of more than $20 billion by 2020, excluding contribution from CSeries.

It projected 2020 EBITDA of $2.25 billion.

Citigroup analyst Stephen Trent said he expected revenue of $21.3 billion and EBITDA of $1.86 billion in 2020.

Bombardier said it expected to deliver 40 CSeries and 35 CRJ and Q400 aircraft in 2018, up from a total 50 it has forecast for this year. However, it expects the commercial aircraft business to book a loss of $350 million before interest and tax next year.

Bombardier’s shares have risen more than 51 percent this year, compared with a 10.6 percent rise in the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Allison Lampert; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Sayantani Ghosh