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Strong Q3 for Bell Helicopter’s parent company

October 20, 2011  By Carey Fredericks

Oct. 20, 2011, Prvoidence, R.I. - Textron Inc., bolstered in part by a strong performance from Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter, reported stronger third-quarter revenue and earnings Thursday despite the continuing slow economy and fewer defense orders.

The Providence, R.I.-based conglomerate earned $142 million or 47 cents a share, compared with a loss of $48 million, or 17 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue increased 14 percent to $2.8 billion.

"We had a successful quarter with strong execution, particularly at Cessna and Bell," said Textron CEO Scott Donnelly.

Both of the company's aircraft subsidiaries, Bell and business jet maker Cessna Aircraft, continue to face headwinds as the sluggish economy dampens sales of new helicopters and planes to commercial buyers.

Bell has shown consistent improvement in recent quarters as production of military aircraft has increased and profit margins have improved with efficiency gains.


"Those guys are doing a very nice job of converting on higher volumes and controlling costs," Donnelly said.

Revenue from the Bell segment, which includes other small operations, increased $69 million in the third quarter, while profit increased $36 million. Bell delivered nine V-22s, seven H-1s and 26 commercial aircraft in the quarter, all up from a year ago.

Bell's backlog at the end of the third quarter was $6.4 billion, down $588 million from the end of the second quarter this year, primarily reflecting higher military aircraft deliveries.

In a conference call with financial analysts, Donnelly said he still has high hopes for Bell's newest commercial helicopter, the model 429, despite delivering only two of the slow-selling $5 million-plus aircraft in the third quarter.

"The demand, I think, will still be there," Donnelly said, adding that deliveries of 429s will pickup by year's end. "We've got a lot of [sales] proposals out there."

Cessna revenue increased $236 million and profit increased $64 million as the company delivered 47 new Citation jets, compared with 26 a year ago.

Cessna's backlog at the end of the third quarter was $2.2 billion, down $359 million from the end of the second quarter, and amounts to less than a full year's production.

For the first nine months of 2011, Textron earned $261 million, up from $26 million a year earlier. Revenue increased 8 percent to $8 billion.


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