Textron CEO Scott Donnelly on Wednesday pointed to improving fourth-quarter performance at the company’s flagship aviation businesses – Cessna Aircraft and Bell Helicopter – for boosting its bottom line in slowly recovering economy.
“We had a solid quarter with good execution especially at Cessna and Bell,” Donnelly said on a conference call with reporters. “We're pleased with continued success in selling commercial aircraft in what has been an uncertain environment over the past three months. As a result, at Cessna we delivered 47 jets in the quarter, up significantly from last year's 26.”
Cessna’s profit increased $37 million primarily due to “favorable performance, higher non-jet volume and a beneficial mix of jets.”
“With the orders we recorded in the quarter, which is typically a slower order period, along with current customer activity, we remain on track to achieve our target of a slight increase in deliveries this year, barring no major economic disruptions,” he said.
Donnelly also noted that he’s also pleased with the progress Cessna is making since a change in leadership last summer, when chairman, president and CEO Jack Pelton abruptly retired. “Scott Ernest has been on board for about five months now, and I think he and the Cessna team have established a good cadence to drive both operational and sales execution,” Donnelly said of Cessna’s new CEO.
Donnelly also heaped praise on Bell Helicopter’s fourth-quarter performance, noting that Bell delivered 26 commercial helicopters in the quarter versus 24 in the same period in 2010. Bell’s backlog at the end of the third quarter was $6.4 billion, down $588 million from the end of the second quarter of 2011, reflecting military deliveries during the quarter, as well as a $781 million reduction to backlog to correct an accounting error made in 2009, which “recorded as backlog the full value of a V-22 contract rather than Bell’s proportionate share.”
“The commercial order environment of Bell is holding up fairly well, given the macro environment, so we also remain on track to post a slight increase in commercial deliveries at Bell this year,” Donnelly said.