EADS is not ruling out the possibility that the NH Industries NH90 helicopter program could further impact earnings for the company.
Development problems have, on numerous occasions, caused both EADS and Thales to take charges against their financial accounts to deal with unanticipated costs. In the 2011 results EADS released March 8, the NH90 was once again one of the main program-related one-off charges.
EADS would not break down Eurocopter’s €115 million ($150 million) charge, saying only that it was linked to government programs (the Tiger attack helicopter and NH90) and costs associated with the unit’s Shape restructuring plan.
Departing EADS CFO Hans-Peter Ring says he “cannot guarantee” that there won’t be further charges . He blames the NH90 problems on the companies’ willingness to allow too much customization, with almost every buyer having a near-bespoke configuration. At Thales, past NH90 charges—none were booked in 2011—were linked to the mission system for the maritime version, the NFH90.
One source of additional NH90 charges could be the German government’s plans to curtail its buy; Berlin also is looking to trim its procurement of Tiger rotorcraft.
Discussions between Germany and the company over how to restructure the programs are under way, but Ring notes they “will take some time.”
In the statement announcing 2011 results, EADS CEO Louis Gallois emphasizes that defense funding uncertainties need to be resolved. “It is essential that these talks, notably in Germany, show fast and sound results for both sides,” he says.
By Robert Wall
March 12, 2012