EADS sees moderate growth in 2013

European aerospace giant EADS unveiled better-than-expected 2012 results on Wednesday driven by record deliveries of its Airbus aircraft, but cautioned growth could tail off in the current year.

"EADS should see in 2013 only moderate growth," as deliveries of its A380 superjumbos slow, chief executive Tom Enders told the group's annual news conference here.

The group also warned that the programme of Airbus's new wide-body long-range A350 passenger jet, scheduled to enter into commercial service in the latter part of 2014, remained "challenging."

"Any schedule change could lead to an increasingly higher impact on provisions," said chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm, even if he insisted that the A350 "remains on track, based on the revised schedule."

Last year was a good year for EADS.

EADS booked net profit of 1.228 billion euros ($1.6 billion), a rise of 19 percent over the year-earlier figure and beating analysts' expectations.

Underlying or operating profit, as measured by earnings before interest and tax and one-off items, rose to 3.0 billion euros from 1.8 billion euros in 2011.

And revenues grew by 15 percent to 56.48 billion euros, the statement said.

The better-than-expected results sent EADS shares soaring on the Paris stock exchange, where they added more than 6.0 percent and passed the 37-euro mark for the first time.

"EADS achieved strong revenue and underlying profit growth for the full year 2012. Despite a difficult macroeconomic environment, EADS saw continued momentum in its commercial activities while defence revenues were broadly stable," the company said.

On the back of this, EADS said it would propose an increased dividend of 0.60 euros per share for 2012, compared with 0.45 euros per share for 2011.

Looking ahead to the current year, EADS said it was projecting underlying or operating profit of 3.5 billion euros, "provided the world economy and air traffic grow in line with prevailing independent forecasts and there are no major disruption due to the current sovereign debt crisis."

EADS said its commercial aircraft maker Airbus achieved record deliveries last year, handing over a total 588 airplanes to customers, including 30 A380 superjumbos.

That drove Airbus's commercial revenues up by 18.6 percent to 36.943 billion euros and its overall sales up by 17 percent to 38.592 billion euros.

Airbus's underlying profit more than doubled to 1.23 billion euros.

EADS said it did not book any additional charges related to the delay of its new long-haul A350 jet, now scheduled for the end of 2014, on top of the 124-million-euro hit it took last year.

But it described the A350 programme as "challenging. Any schedule change could lead to an increasingly higher impact on provisions," it said.

Nevertheless, the A350 "remains on track, based on the revised schedule," it insisted.

Airbus recently decided not to use the lithium-ion batteries for the A350 that are the cause of rival Boeing's current problems with its 787 Dreamliner.

Analysts suggest that a switch to traditional nickel-cadmium batteries could delay the launch of the A350.

As for the wing crack problems that have plagued Airbus's A380 superjumbos, "the wing rib issue has been resolved with repairs on-going on deployed aircraft and design modifications embodied into the new production standard," EADS said.

Revenues at its Eurocopter subsidiary were up 16 percent at 6.264 billion euros, while its satellite unit Astrium booked a 17-percent increase in sales to 5.817 billion euros.

Business at its Cassidian defence and security unit was "broadly stable" with sales amounting to 5.74 billion euros.

EADS said that at the end of December it had orders on hand of 566.5 billion euros, compared with 541 billion euros at the end of 2011.

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