When you look at any stocks associated with air travel, from aerospace manufacturers to airlines, one thing is clear: Bombardier Inc. has been left out of a remarkable rally over the past year. But this poor performance could be about to change.
After factoring in today's decline, its share price in Toronto has risen just 6 per cent over the past year, and it is still down more than 20 per cent since the end of October. Of course, it remains well below highs seen more than a decade ago.
Compare that to Boeing Co. (record-high share price; up 92 per cent over the past year), Embraer SA (up 26 per cent over the past year), and Air Canada (up nearly 300 per cent over the past year), and Bombardier looks like the odd man out.
On Thursday, the shares slumped more than 6 per cent in early trading after the company announced a significant delay in rolling out its new C Series jets. Bombardier now sees "entry-into-service" starting in the second half of 2015, versus an earlier forecast of this coming September. While a delay was expected, it's bigger than analysts had been forecasting and it raises the threat of late-delivery financial penalties and higher costs.
But there are three key arguments in favour of Bombardier, which add up to a compelling case for the stock right now.
1. It's cheap. The shares trade at just 10.9-times estimated earnings, while Embraer and Boeing trade at more than 20-times earnings. Bombardier is also relatively cheap when you compare the share price to sales and book value. The low valuation suggests that there is a lot of anxiety built into the share price, largely associated with whether the huge risks with the C Series will ultimately pay off. The good news: The upside looks pretty good if Bombardier pulls it off.
2. Prospects for the C Series – medium-range jets that seat between 110 and 135 passengers – are encouraging. These are early days for orders, of course, but there are signs that the market is receptive. The company announced this week that a new airline in Saudi Arabia ordered 16 aircraft, in a deal valued at $1.2-billion. Bombardier expects orders for 300 planes by the time the C Series enters service. Meanwhile, strong orders for smaller business planes and a rail unit have kept money rolling in: Though financial results were disappointing in the third quarter, Bombardier remains highly profitable, reporting $147-million in net earnings and $4.1-billion in revenue.
3. If Boeing is a template, then Bombardier's setbacks with the C Series are nothing to worry about. Boeing, of course, recently rolled out its 787 Dreamliner aircraft, but it hasn't been a smooth ride: The aircraft's debut commercial flight was delayed by three years, and its safety record has since been marred by a number of mishaps related to onboard batteries. Boeing shares have since surged, suggesting that delays and setbacks – rather than takeoffs and landings – mark ideal times to buy aerospace stocks.
Of course, there's no guarantee that Bombardier's C Series is going to be a runaway success for the company. But the current focus on disappointing earnings and production setbacks means that there's no guarantee built into the share price, either. The upside looks good, while the downside is limited.