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Stock Analyst Update

Airbus-Bombardier Deal Is All About Squeezing Boeing

We expect Boeing to fight this partnership and think it may seek closer ties with Embraer.

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After the market close Oct. 16,  Bombardier (BBD.B) announced that  Airbus (AIR) would acquire a majority stake in the Bombardier C Series program in a noncash deal. We think Airbus wants to bring additional pressure to bear on  Boeing’s (BA) narrow-bodies and expand its North American and Chinese footprint. Bombardier gets a strong sales, marketing, and customer support partner on an aircraft program that was facing sales headwinds, including potential U.S. tariffs. We plan to revise our C Series estimates and anticipate a 5% fair value estimate increase for no-moat Bombardier. We maintain our narrow moat rating and EUR 81 fair value estimate for Airbus. We think Airbus, which won’t spend a penny up front, got favorable terms. 

This partnership puts further pressure on Boeing's 737 MAX. Boeing and Airbus lack competitive offerings in the lower end of the narrow-body market. The C Series provides Airbus with an all-new aircraft in the lower end of narrow-bodies that competes directly with the 737 MAX 7. Given the challenges Boeing faces at the higher end, where the A321neo is outselling the 737 MAX 9/10, we think the tie-up puts the squeeze on Boeing from both sides. Boeing will most likely argue against this deal to the competition authorities and might also seek closer ties with Embraer, which is present in the lower end of the market with its E2. The two already work together on Embraer’s KC-390 military transport, with Boeing supporting sales and marketing efforts.

We believe Airbus, which continues to expand globally, sees Bombardier as another growth path thanks to its North American presence and its fuselage work in China with Shenyang Aircraft. Airbus expects to eventually expand C Series production to its Mobile, Alabama, assembly line, and we think it will expand its relationship with Canadian and U.S. suppliers. Bombardier management was adamant that C Series aircraft rolling off Airbus’ Alabama production line would not be subject to the recently announced U.S. tariffs.

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Chris Higgins does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.