Aircraft Makers Doing Big Business in Paris

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The Paris Air Show officially kicked off on Monday, an event where aircraft makers and potential clients get together. The main focus is of course on the world’s two largest aircraft producers, Boeing (NYSE: BA) and EADS’ (NASDAQOTH: EADSY.PK) Airbus division. These two aviation titans will be battling it out for large orders during the show, as well as showing off their latest models. With the industry in good shape at the moment, commentators expect the two companies to sell plenty of airplanes this week.

Industry boom

Helped in part by the demand for new and more fuel efficient aircraft, Boeing and Airbus have been in a significant upswing lately in terms of sales as well as earnings. With orders pouring in, especially from Asia, the two rivals are in great shape financially, and are expecting this strong performance to continue over the next few years. According to Airbus’ CEO, the company is expecting to more than double its operating margin in the next few years.

In terms of revenue growth, Airbus seems to be outperforming Boeing, with a year-over-year increase of 8.6% versus Boeing’s decline of 2.5%. Airbus managed to double its income for commercial aircraft for the first quarter of the year, while Boeing’s earnings in the commercial segment were up about 13%. Both stocks have been rallying impressively over the last year, Boeing up over 41% and Airbus tacking on nearly 70%.

Big orders

So far, Airbus has been stealing the show in terms of orders in its home turf of Paris. Demand has been particularly robust from Asian carriers, who are snapping up the A320 at a record rate. AirAsia is putting together a $17 billion order for 200 A320’s, a deal which is to set the record for the largest number of aircraft sold in one contract. Two Asian low-cost airlines have also put in orders for the fuel-efficient airplane, Cebu Pacific from the Philippines buying around $3.8 billion worth and India’s Go Air buying up to $7.2 billion. In total, at the time of writing, Airbus is expected to scoop up around $72.2 billion in orders during the show.

While Airbus is expected to seal the majority of the deals during the air show, Boeing for its part has raked in some fairly large contracts and is seeing strong demand for its new Dreamliner. The US airplane maker secured a $2.9 billion deal with GE Capital Aviation Services, GE’s aircraft leasing segment, for 10 787-10X planes. In another deal, travel company TUI Travel has put in an order for 60 737MAX planes in a transaction worth around $6.1 billion.

One of the larger orders for Boeing so far is the purchase of 175 737 planes, which was just approved by the shareholders of Ryanair (NASDAQ: RYAAY) in a deal worth some $15.6 billion. The low-cost carrier recently reported record profits, income and revenue both rising 13%, with the stock up nearly 45% this year alone. The airline is looking to significantly expand its operations from Dublin, especially to Scandinavia, with which it hopes to increase traffic by around 25%. Presumably, the purchase is meant in part to support these expansion plans.

Valuations and metrics

Looking at P/E ratio, Boeing is clearly the less expensive of the two aircraft makers discussed here, trading at 19.12 times trailing earnings versus EADS’ 27.01. The price-to-book paints quite a different picture however, with Boeing’s 10.35 far higher than EADS’ 3.86. As mentioned earlier, the Airbus division is planning on upping its operating margin, currently at only 4%, to compete with Boeing’s 7.37%. Boeing furthermore has an excellent return on equity of over 64%, much higher than EADS’ 13.66%.

The bottom line

The Paris Air Show is a closely watched event for investors in aircraft companies, an event where the latest models are showcased and large deals are announced. So far, it seems as if Airbus is acquiring the bulk of the deals in its home turf, and at least for the moment, seems to be the company delivering the better growth. On the other hand, Boeing is valued a bit more attractively at the moment, which may make it the more compelling choice for value investors.


Daniel James has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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