Textron CEO: Expect Cessna profitability in Q4


Oct. 20--Cessna Aircraft Co. posted a $31 million loss in the third quarter of 2010, its parent company said today in its quarterly report.

The loss compares with a profit of $32 million in the third quarter of 2009. For the year, Cessna has lost $52 million. It earned $170 million in the first nine months of 2009.

Cessna revenue was $535 million, down from $825 million in the third quarter a year ago.

The company delivered 26 aircraft in the quarter, compared with 68 in the same period a year ago. Its backlog was $3.4 billion, down by $321 million from the second quarter of the year.

In a conference call with analysts today, Textron CEO Scott Donnelly said he expects "a significant increase" in deliveries in the fourth quarter.

"As a result, Cessna should turn to profitability in the fourth quarter," said Donnelly, who was speaking from the National Business Aviation Association's convention in Atlanta.

Donnelly said the mood of customers at NBAA was improved from 2009.

"I would say, generally speaking, customers appear to be more optimistic than they were a year ago," he said. "It's too early to tell if this marks a turning point."

He said business jet order activity slowed in June but "did pick up somewhat" in September.

The bonus depreciation provision in the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act -- which applies to business jets -- is "certainly a positive factor," Donnelly told analysts, but he isn't certain yet as to how that will affect Cessna's sales.