Bell saw revenue and profits slip in the fourth quarter despite slightly higher deliveries of commercial and military helicopters and tiltrotors in the three-month period ended January 2, parent company Textron reported yesterday.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based OEM recorded profit of $88 million on revenue of $858 million in the quarter, which represented a decrease of $22 million and $13 million, respectively, from the same period in 2020. During the quarter, the Fort Worth, Texas-based OEM delivered 59 commercial and 13 military helicopters and tiltrotors. That compares with deliveries of 57 commercial and 12 military aircraft in the fourth quarter of 2020. Textron attributed the lower revenue and profit to lower military revenue, volume, and mix.
For 2021, profit at Bell fell from $462 million in the prior year to $408 million on revenue of $3.36 billion, which was slightly higher than the $3.30 billion it earned in 2020. Bell ended the fourth quarter with a $3.9 billion backlog, down from $4.1 billion at the end of the third quarter. Deliveries for the full year totaled 156 commercial and 48 military helicopters and tiltrotors, compared with 140 commercial and 45 military aircraft in 2020.
On a conference call with analysts yesterday, Textron CEO Scott Donnelly said he thinks Bell will have a good 2022 for commercial helicopter deliveries, but the military aftermarket will be a “challenge” as will another military program, the H-1, which is winding down. “So, you're losing what's been important production volume for us,” he said of the H-1.
Donnelly added on the call that he anticipates the U.S. Army to announce the aircraft selection for the FLRAA (future long-range assault aircraft) in mid-2022, a program that could be worth as much as $40 billion and for which Bell is competing with its V-280 Valor tiltrotor. Even if Bell wins that contract, he warned analysts, it will be a while before the company sees revenue from it. “I mean this is a big program and I think it's going to realistically take some time,” Donnelly explained.