Tag Archives: Aerospace & Defence

EADS and BAE Systems merger talks

I first learnt about the merger talks between EADS and BAE Systems via a tweet from my brother:

I then suggested that the possible kind of “last supper” might have been the “Defence and Security Co-operation Treaty” signed almost 2 years ago between France and United Kingdom.

Last supper. First, what is that “last supper” my brother was referring to? It refers to a meeting that was called in 1993 by William Perry, then US Deputy Secretary of Defense, in which he explained defence contractors the post-Cold War defense strategy which called for defense industrial base consolidation. In the chart below, you can see the spree of mergers and acquisitions that took place in the following years:

US defence contractors consolidation after “last supper” in 1993.

In Europe at the time there was a similar consolidation trend, which ended in mainly 3 big European aerospace and defence groups: EADS, BAE Systems and Finmeccanica.

Setting the record straight. Prior to the definition of those 3 groups, several discussions took place at the end of the 90s between different companies. Some articles that I have read about the EADS and BAE talks mention that after conversations between German DASA and British Aerospace failed in 1998 (when BA opted for acquiring GEC Marconi), DASA underwent the acquisition of the Spanish Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (CASA). Well, this is not true. It never happened. DASA merged with French Aerospatiale. Some months later CASA joined the merged when EADS was created. This is well reflected in many other articles. Just as a side note: Tom Enders, current EADS CEO took a role personally in those conversations between DASA and BA already in 1998.

Balance between Defence and Civil business. Most of the articles that we can read today mention the strategic goal of EADS in balancing its defence portfolio with the civil one. Two years ago I wrote a post which included some graphics comparing the then largest world defence companies. I compared the relative size of each company and how defence-oriented their businesses are. Today, I will make use of one of those graphics to show the profile of the two companies, EADS and BAE Systems to weigh that strategic fit:

EADS vs BAE. Size and defence profile.

Stock Market response. The merger talks were announced last Wednesday 12th. The closing prices of each company the previous day were:

  • EADS: 29.67€. This is, a market value of 24.3bn€.
  • BAE Systems: 328pc. This is, a market value of 13.3bn€ (taking that day exchange rate of 1.25).

That is, the combined merger would be 37.6bn€; 64.6% coming from EADS, 35.4% from BAE. However, the announcement mentioned a 60/40 split of the parent company. That is, the announcement pointed investors that either EADS was overvalued (up to +17.7% to get a 60/40 split keeping BAE’s value constant), BAE undervalued (up to -21.5% to get a 60/40 split keeping EADS’ value constant) or somewhere in between.

In the following days, EADS price fell down and then stabilised, BAE went upwards. On Friday they closed at:

  • EADS: 25.31€. This is, a market value of 20.7bn€.
  • BAE Systems: 347pc. This is, a market value of 14.1bn€.

That is a split of 59.5%/40.5%… thus, the market understood EADS was overvalued around -15% while BAE was undervalued around 6%.

Self praise. Taking that price in which now EADS sells, 25.3€ (undoubtedly guided by the 60/40 split), I wanted to bring back another post I wrote about a year ago. In that post, I mentioned that I valued EADS at a price of 24€… Not bad :-).



Filed under Aerospace & Defence, Investing

Commercial aircraft market size after discounts (update)

In an older post I already made an analysis of the aircraft discounts related to the published list prices (by the way, Boeing just raised its list prices 5.2% a couple of days ago). In that case, I used the revenues and deliveries of Boeing in the previous 3 years (38% discount was the result!).

Using that information, now that the latest market forecasts both from Airbus (Global Market Forecast) and Boeing (Current Market Outlook) are available, we can say that the real market size in the next 20 years will be in the order of 2,100bn$ (average of both forecasts in 2010 dollars).

Flow of airplanes

Another very interesting feature that Airbus published in last year’s GMF (it is not yet in this year’s publication) and Boeing used for this year’s CMO is a graphic showing the dynamics of aircraft. In it you may understand how from today’s fleet, adding new deliveries, retiring old aircraft, converting some from passenger to freight transport they arrive to the forecasted fleet in 2029.

I include below both graphics.

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Airbus vs. Boeing, comparison of market forecasts

Airbus announced on Monday its latest Global Market Forecast (PDF, 4.6MB) for the 20-year period 2010-2029. Media has already highlighted the main points: ~26,000 new aircraft will be delivered with a market value of ~3,200bn$.

Some months ago, Boeing published its equivalent study, the Current Market Outlook (PDF, 8.2MB) for the same period.

It is interesting to compare the two of them. In that way we can see how each other treat competitors’ products (mainly A380) and how they try to shape the market and send messages to it (point-to-point & hub-spoke).

However, it is not easy to compare the studies as they use slightly different segmentations, disclose in different ways the value of aircraft for the segments (list prices) and is not always clear how to discount freighter aircraft from global figures. I dig for some time into those numbers and arrived to the following table:

Comparison of Airbus GMF and Boeing CMO 2010-2029.

Some comments on the comparison:

  • Boeing sees demand for 13% more aircraft with a 10% more value.
  • However, this higher demand is not applicable to all segments: Boeing sees ~60% less A380s or equivalent being delivered over the next 20 years, while 18% more single aisle (A320s) and 12% more twin aisle (A330/A350s).
  • Boeing plays down A380 potential, but sees a very similar number of RPKs (“revenue passenger kilometer”), that is, the number of paying passenger by the distance they are transported. Airbus forecasts for 2029 12.03 RPKs while Boeing forecasts 12.60 (in trillion).
  • The difference of less than 5% in RPKs means that out of the 13% difference in aircraft deliveries over 8% comes from the different business model each company is trying to push.
  • Finally, we can see that Boeing uses again higher average prices for smaller aircraft and a lower reference price for A380s.

Enjoy the two documents, differences apart, they gave a very good piece of information and insight about the market.


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By now, most of you are aware that I moved recently to Toulouse. Some of you may have read about the process of finding my new flat.

I live in the Rue du Cimetière Saint-Cyprien, close to the city centre. Going back and for to work takes about 20 minutes, there is traffic as they say here, but nothing compared to larger cities.

My street.

The flat is what they call a T3; this is a living room plus 2 bedrooms. The kitchen is way larger than my cooking skills will ever ask for. It has an open-air private parking lot…

… but really, what makes me call it home is this view:

Sweet home.

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Boeing forecast for A380

The last two issues of Boeing’s Current Market Outlook, included a slide in which Boeing wanted to prove that their forecasts have been more accurate in the last 10 years. They compare actual aircraft demand versus both Airbus and Boeing forecasts in the year 2000.

Boeing Current Market Outlook, different views.

I find it interesting that all segments are described as such, segments: “Single-aisle”, “Twin-aisle”, “Large”… except for Airbus forecast in which Boeing introduces the model “A380”. As if wanting to point that Airbus was wrong in its A380 forecast… as if wanting to steer demand.

Let’s see the numbers:

  • Actual demand (2000-09): ~300 aircraft.
  • Boeing forecast (2000-19): ~700 aircraft, assuming equal split (among the 2 decades): ~350 a/c in 2000-09.
  • Airbus forecast (2000-19): ~1,300 aircraft, assuming equal split: ~650 a/c in 2000-09 (although A380 first flight took place only in April 2005).

As of today, Airbus has sold 234 A380s, including the latest 32 from Emirates. The prospects for the aircraft seem brighter as operators started operating it, on the other hand Boeing 747-8 orders have stalled since 2007.

A bit of history.

Yesterday, I was digging into back materials and I found two interesting pieces. Both from Boeing’s website in the year 1996 (using the way back machine). The first one is from a webpage about delivering value it could be read:

“In an industry defined by continual change, customers expect Boeing to help them prepare for the challenges ahead. That’s why we work closely with customers to understand their long-term requirements.

Customers have expressed interest in many potential airplanes, including:

  • An airplane smaller than the 737-600, seating 80 to 100 passengers.
  • An airplane larger than today’s 747-400.
  • A capable and cost-effective supersonic jetliner.
  • Derivatives of current models.”

Of those potential airplanes: we have seen the Embraer 190, the Airbus A380, derivatives and the only one that never came true was the supersonic jetliner

Artist image of Boeing Sonic Cruiser.

The other piece is from a news release on the occasion of the Farnborough air show of 1996 (2010 edition is taking place right now). There, Boeing stated:

Most major aerospace companies agree that airlines will require 500 to 700 airplanes capable of carrying more than 500 passengers. Boeing forecasts 500 airplanes will be needed by the year 2015.

Much of the demand for these very large airplanes will be generated by steady growth in air travel to and from Asia, and by capacity constraints at some of the world’s largest airports.

The 747-600X, with its ability to carry 548 passengers on routes up to 7,750 nautical miles (8,900 statute miles or 14,350 km), is designed to fill this market need. It will allow airlines to accommodate traffic growth without increasing the number of departures scheduled for busy airports.

During the next 20 years, airlines also will need approximately 600 airplanes capable of carrying between 400 and 500 passengers.

The Boeing 747-400 and 747-500X are designed to fill this market need.”

At this point it is useful to remember that in 1993 Boeing together with Airbus consortium companies started the feasibility study for the Very Large Commercial Transport (VLCT). Boeing left the joint study two years later. Nevertheless, still in 1996 it stated in its website that demand of aircraft carrying above 400 seats (747 and A380 of today) in the following 20 years would be between 1,100-1,300 planes, very close to Airbus forecast of the year 2000. The reasons behind that demand were the same Airbus argues nowadays: growth in Asia, constrains in largest hubs…

Later on, Boeing changed its forecast down to 700 aircraft.


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Aircraft discounts and new entrants

Boeing has recently unveiled its latest Current Market Outlook (CMO): a commercial aviation market forecast for the next 20 years. It calls for 30,900 new aircraft deliveries worth 3.6 trillion dollars. Today, I wanted to write about aircraft discounts and the possibility of having new entrants.

Boeing Current Market Outlook.

Both Boeing and Airbus give their market forecast and backlog figures in what they call as list prices. If you take figures from CMO, you will reach average list prices for regional jets (31M$), single-aisle (79M$), twin-aisle (230M$) and large aircraft (306M$). These figures are in accordance to the prices published in their website (dating from 2008).

However, if you take their published numbers of deliveries each year and use the same prices, you would come to much higher revenues figures than the ones they publish in the year-end results: this is because aircraft makers actually sell the planes at a much lower price. How much lower?


I took the figures of revenues, orders and deliveries of the last three years and tried to reach what would be the corresponding discount Boeing’s customers manage to get on average.

I assumed that new orders come with a 3% down payment in the year of the booking, while the remaining cost I assumed that was paid on the year of delivery (for simplicity I didn’t consider more intermediate payments, the 3% figure was taken from the AIAA paper “A Hierarchical Aircraft Life Cycle Cost Analysis Model” by William J. Marx et al.). I also used estimated figures for Boeing Commercial Aviation Services ranging from 2.2bn$ to 3.3bn$.

With these assumptions, I concluded that the average discount that would best replicate revenues figures for Boeing Commercial Airplanes with a minimum error was: 38%! (being the errors in revenues of: 0.05% for 2009, 3.2% for 2008 and 0.5% for 2007).

Thus, when figuring out the value of those 30,900 aircraft we could rather estimate it at 2.2 trillion dollars (instead of 3.6 trn$).

New entrants?

Randy Tinseth, BCA’s VP Marketing, was quoted in Flight Global saying that he expected at least one more competitor in the single-aisle segment. If there are more competitors, competition is going to be tight.

Today Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Airbus Commercial yearly revenues together approximately account for 70bn$. If their revenues are to grow with Boeing’s forecasted world airplane fleet growth of 3.3%, along the next 20 years the revenues of both companies combined would amount to 1.94 trillion dollars.

Considering that the whole market, factoring in discounted prices, was going to be 2.2 trn$, this leaves the rest of competitors a share of the pie of about 250bn$ for the next 20 years (excluding regional jets), this is just 11.4% of the market.

If we look at it on a per year basis: 12.5bn$ a year for all new entrants (CSeries, Embraer, MS-21, SSJ, C919, Koreans, Japanese…) would mean about 250 aircraft a year (compared to the ~380-400 single-aisle that each Boeing and Airbus are delivering per year).

There is room for one commercial success comparable to the 737 or A320 family, but there is not room for two… maybe this is why Randy says “one or two of those guys into the mix” (despite of the many more new possible players).


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Project managers and Pencils

Today I was attending a project management course at Airbus. After some introductions, the teacher came to the always controversial (within such a technological company) comment that “the project leader needs to have experience in project management not in the technical issues related to the project”… she then cited aircraft as an example: “nobody within Airbus may know every technical detail of an aircraft which counts with hundreds of thousands parts, yet there is someone managing its development…”

That example seems very clear. Tonight, while listening to a TED Talk on the exchange of ideas, by Matt Ridley, I got the thread to a way better example: that is the essay “I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read” by Leonard E. Read, which can be found at the Library of Economics and Liberty.

I believe this a much better example because of exactly the same reasons Mr. Pencil gives:

“[…] I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because—well, because I am seemingly so simple.

[…] Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.”

Then, the pencil goes explaining where all its components are coming from…

“[…] My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors…”

If it’s clear that nobody knows how to make simple pencil, clearer will be for any other case of a more complex product.

There is indeed a Mr. President of the pencil company, there may even be a Pencil Programme Manager, but as Pencil says: “There is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being.”

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