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Airbus posts higher 2014 profit and increases A320 build rates

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Airbus Group NV reported a 15 per cent gain in annual profit after increasing commercial plane deliveries and announced plans to boost monthly production of its workhorse A320 single-aisle aircraft to 50 a month by 2017.

[TOULOUSE] Airbus Group NV reported a 15 per cent gain in annual profit after increasing commercial plane deliveries and announced plans to boost monthly production of its workhorse A320 single-aisle aircraft to 50 a month by 2017.

Earnings for 2014 before interest, tax and one-time items rose to 4.07 billion euros (US$4.56 billion ) from 3.54 billion euros, beating estimates by analysts for 3.84 billion euros. The company took a charge of 551 million euros for penalties it related to delays of its A400M military transport. Sales rose 5 per cent to 60.7 billion euros.

The European aerospace company, which draws two thirds of sales from its airliner unit, has benefited from demand for new, more-fuel efficient aircraft as airlines seek to protect themselves from the volatility of fuel costs. Airbus today builds 42 single-aisle planes a month and was targeting 46 by 2016. Boeing co. is aiming for 52 single-aisle planes by 2018.

"We delivered more commercial aircraft than ever before, including our first A350, and our net orders were, once again, more than twice the number of deliveries," said chief executive officer Tom Enders in a statement issued today.

The company predicted "slightly higher" deliveries for this year than in 2014, and reiterated plans to break even with its A380 super-jumbo program, which has struggled to attract fresh orders. Sales will rise this year, and Airbus said it expects a "slight" increase in operating earnings before certain items, with a break-even on cash flow before acquisitions.

BLOOMBERG