November 16, 2018 / 8:43 PM / a month ago

Bombardier CEO meets investors as stock dives 20 percent

MONTREAL, TORONTO (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc’s (BBDb.TO) top executives met with investors in Montreal on Friday after a disappointing free cash flow forecast and regulatory action, which sent the plane and train maker’s shares down 20 percent, sources familiar with the matter said.

A Bombardier trade pavilion is seen at Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, Britain, July 17, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The Montreal meeting with Bombardier Chief Executive Alain Bellemare and Chief Financial Officer John Di Bert was previously scheduled but “the (high) participation and level of interest was driven by recent events,” said one of the two sources.

Bellemare had already met with investors following the free cash flow forecast on Nov. 8, which sent its shares down more than 23 percent on that day.

The Canadian company said it would only be able to meet its 2018 free cash flow estimate by using $635 million in proceeds from the sale of a Toronto plant earlier this year. Analysts had expected Montreal-based Bombardier to achieve its target of roughly breaking even on cash without relying on those proceeds.

Bellemare, credited with improving Bombardier’s finances after a crippling 2015 cash crunch, sought to reassure investors that the company would still achieve the company’s five-year turnaround plan designed to boost revenues and margins by 2020, said the source who could not provide further details on the meeting.

The sources declined to be identified as the information is not public. A Bombardier spokesman declined to comment when asked about the meeting.

On Thursday, the province of Quebec’s securities watchdog asked Bombardier to halt stock trades under a plan set up to facilitate share sales by certain senior company executives.

The Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) said it was “reviewing” transactions and “various announcements” related to Bombardier’s creation of an Automatic Securities Disposition Plan on Aug. 15.

Bombardier stock closed down 20 percent at C$1.67, adding to last week’s 31 percent slide.

The sell-off in the stock also spread to bonds. Bombardier has about C$12.3 billion ($9.35 billion) of bonds outstanding, much of which has been issued in U.S. dollars, according to Refinitiv Eikon data.

The yield on Bombardier’s 7.5 percent U.S. dollar bond maturing in March 2025 has jumped by nearly 300 basis points over the last two weeks to 9.87 percent, its highest since July 2016.

Jamie Koutaoukis, Moody’s lead Bombardier analyst, said by email that she downgraded the company’s senior unsecured debt in 2017 “highlighting at that time that we expected continued negative free cash flow in 2018, in contrast to guidance.”

Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal and Fergal Smith in Toronto; Editing by Susan Thomas and Tom Brown

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