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By Susanna Ray and Frederic Tomesco
MONTREAL - Textron Inc. forecast higher 2012 profit than analysts estimated as demand for its Cessna aircraft recovers and Bell helicopter sales grow.
Earnings from continuing operations excluding one-time items will be $1.80 a share to $2, the Providence-based company said in a statement Wednesday. The average of nine analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg was $1.67.
CEO Scott Donnelly is working to leverage the company’s businesses with measures such as having Cessna and Bell share overseas service centers and sales forces. Textron is winding down its finance unit, which struggled during the recession.
The company expects “double-digit growth at both Cessna and Bell,” Donnelly said in the statement. “We expect Bell’s commercial business to be particularly robust next year, as our investment in product development is driving strong order flow.”
Textron rose 8.7 percent to $23.49 at 8:19 a.m., before the start of regular trading in New York. The shares fell 20 percent in the year before Wednesday.
“The 2012 guidance is a positive surprise,” since most investors expected a forecast slightly below estimates, Julian Mitchell, a New York-based analyst with Credit Suisse Group AG, said in a note to clients. He rates the shares “neutral.”
Textron posted a fourth-quarter net loss of $19 million, or 7 cents a share, compared with profit of $60 million, or 19 cents, a year earlier.
Excluding 55 cents a share in one-time items such as adjustments in the finance unit and a loss from convertible note repurchases, profit from continuing operations was 49 cents a share. That exceeded the 34-cent average of 14 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
At Cessna, which had to halve its workforce when sales plunged in the recession, revenue increased 5.3 percent in the quarter to $1.01 billion. Higher volumes of used jets, single- engine aircraft and Caravans made up for deliveries of Citation business jets dropping to 67 from 79, the company said. The unit’s backlog dropped 13 percent to $1.9 billion.
“We do not see it as a good sign that the backlog was again down in what was expected to be the strongest quarter for sales,” Robert Stallard, a New York-based analyst at RBC Capital Markets, wrote in a note to clients.
The planemaker’s profit more than doubled to $60 million, while Bell helicopter earnings advanced 21 percent to $167 million.
Bell delivered 62 commercial aircraft in the latest period, down from 71 a year earlier. The unit contributed about 31 percent of Textron’s 2011 revenue, compared with Cessna’s 27 percent. Its backlog climbed to $7.3 billion, a $981 million increase.
Textron builds the V-22 Osprey plane with Boeing Co. and makes other military equipment, including drones and armored vehicles. The company, founded as a textile producer in 1923, also builds E-Z-GO golf carts, Greenlee tools and Kautex plastic fuel systems.
Total quarterly revenue rose 4.1 percent to $3.25 billion from $3.13 billion a year earlier, outpacing analysts’ estimates of $3.24 billion. Revenue in 2012 may climb to $12.5 billion from last year’s $11.28 billion, the company said.