Profits fall at BAE after turbulent six months

The Typhoon assembly line at BAE Warton
The Typhoon assembly line at BAE Warton
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BAE Systems has seen revenues and profits fall in the six months to June 30, its results revealed today.

The results were posted as the company kick-started talks with the Australian government over its £20 billion contract to build warships.

For the six months ended June 30, operating profit dropped 11 per cent to £792 million, down from £885 million for the same period in 2017.

Sales were down 3 per cent to £8.8 billion over the period, which BAE said was due to lower production of Typhoon jets.

BAE's shares were down 12.2p to 641p following the results.

Chief executive Charles Woodburn said: "We have made good progress in the first half, strengthening the outlook through significant wins on the Australian SEA 5000 and US Amphibious Combat Vehicle programmes.

"These, combined with the launch of the UK Combat Air Strategy, provide good momentum into the second half and beyond.

"In this transition earnings year, our group earnings guidance is maintained and, with a large order book and a positive outlook for defence budgets in a number of key markets, we have a strong foundation to deliver growth and sustainable cashflow."

The figures come after a series of high-profile contract wins for the company, which secured a £150 million tank contract with the US Marine Corps in June.

The British defence giant also made headlines when it landed a £20 billion contract to build a new generation of warships for Australia.

BAE will supply nine Type 26 submarine hunter ships for the Royal Australian Navy under the terms of a 30-year contract.

BAE today said it had kick-started negotiations with Australia's defence department on the £1.1 billion design and development contract, an initial four-year contract which is likely to be finalised by the end of the year.

"The production scope is then expected to be negotiated for the first batch of ships with work on the first ship expected to start in early 2020s in South Australia," BAE said.

Sandy Morris, equity analyst at Jefferies, said: "We believe BAE's outlook after the 2020 financial year to be quite bright. The issue is the pace at which BAE grows through the 2019 financial year, and the 2020 financial year.

"We forecast relatively pedestrian progress. We see nothing in today's somewhat 'scruffy' first-half results - especially the large cash outflow - to change our mind."

The group, which operates bases at Warton and Salmesbury and is one of Lancashire's biggest employers with around 10,000 people working across both sites.

Last month the government announced a multi-billion pound investment to replace the Eurofighter Typhoon - with BAE Systems at the forefront.

It is hoped that work on the new Tempest will secure jobs at BAE's Lancashire sites.