In its monthly outlook on the business aircraft market, JP Morgan is remaining guardedly optimistic about a recovery in new business jet demand this year as the path is a winding one and data points are mixed. In March, for example, used inventory picked up for the first time since October.
Likewise, pricing was more or less flat after increasing in January and February. Most models saw price increases, however, and there is a trend toward firming prices.
The uneven data in the used market echoes recent readings from the new market, where Bombardier is showing solid book-to-bill ratios and growing optimism, while Dassault (for example) continues to report net cancellations. However, conditions were much worse just a few months ago. Q1 results start later this month and should bring an update on OE demand.
Used inventory of in production models increased 11.1% in March. By category, Light and Heavy jet inventories increased by 30 bps and 10 bps, respectively, while Medium jet inventories decreased by 20 bps. Embraer (+100 bps), Hawker Beechcraft (+40 bps), Gulfstream (+10 bps), and Cessna (+10 bps) saw increases in inventories, while Dassault (-20 bps) had lower inventory. Bombardier remained flat at 11.5%.
Average price decreased 0.1% to $11.13 mln in March, after recovering 3.1% from the low of $10.8 mln in December. By category, Medium jets witnessed a 2.4% decline in prices, while Heavy jets saw a 0.5% increase in prices. Light jet prices remained flat.
Flight ops increased 5% in February following a 4% rise in the previous month. On a seasonally adjusted basis, flight ops increased 1.2% sequentially after a 7.4% decline last month. Flight ops are now ~24% off the 2009 low, but remain ~19% below the 2007 peak.
Although it is too soon to estimate the financial impact, the G650 accident should affect GD and suppliers. The key issue will be whether the accident was related to a design flaw or if it was something like a testing protocol error. GD should be most affected among companies under coverage, but suppliers will feel the impact too, including SPR (wing and nacelle), HON (cockpit), and COL (pilot controls, actuation, cabin management, and heads up guidance). The G650 accounts for 20 cents of our 2011 EPS estimate for GD and 40 cents of our 2012 estimate. Estimates for both years are $7.00.
Demand for business jets is largely a function of corporate profits. The forecast sees flattish deliveries this year, followed by a pickup in 2012.