Embraer has reported strong results for 2001, despite a sharp drop in aircraft deliveries in the final quarter. Boosted by a 19% devaluation of the Brazilian real against the US dollar, net income increased 36% to $468 million, on net sales up just over 5% to $2.93 billion.

The company delivered 161 jets to regional and corporate customers last year, some 45 fewer than originally planned and one less than in 2000. The sharp cut in deliveries after 11 September was felt in the fourth quarter, with net sales falling 25% and net income dropping just under 11%, but margins still increased slightly because of currency exchange gains.

The Brazilian manufacturer ended 2001 with a net debt position of $23 million, down from a net cash position of $732 million at the end of 2000.

This was largely the result of increased customer financing to support deliveries of aircraft and the build-up of inventory as production rates were reduced.

Chief executive Mauricio Botelho says about $450 million in interim financing was arranged for customers that were unable to arrange their own financing before delivery.

He expects the company's cash position to be restored by mid-year as customers complete financing with third-party lenders and payments begin to come in.

Embraer is planning to deliver 135 jets to regional and corporate customers this year and 145 next year, but expects revenues to be maintained close to last year's level by higher business jet shipments, increased defence and services business, and introduction of the larger, 70-seat Embraer 170 regional jet in 2003. Embraer booked firm orders for 60 regional jets and 25 Legacy business jets last year, taking the firm backlog to 364 ERJ-135/140/145s, 112 Embraer 170/190s and 68 Legacys.

Rival manufacturer Bombardier plans to increase regional jet deliveries in its 2002-3 financial year to 190, from 165 in 2001-2 (Flight International, 26 March - 1 April).

Source: Flight International