UBS puts Sell rating on Embraer

Nov. 22, 2016: UBS resumed coverage on Embraer (NYSE: ERJ) today, rating the stock a Sell. It is the only Sell rating among seven analysts previously covering the company; six are Buys and one is Hold. UBS rated ERJ Neutral prior to suspending coverage.

Skeptical of investment recovery

“We are skeptical of its ability to monetize its nearly $2bn investment in its next generation “E2” commercial aircraft while its midsize bizjet ramp-up is largely behind and competitive growth from Cessna is accelerating. ERJ trades at a ~10% discount to aerospace peers, about in line with its historical discount, but we think a bigger discount is warranted given its slowing growth outlook and still breakeven to negative FCF,” UBS wrote today.

E175-E2 too heavy

UBS zeroed in on the E175-E2, slated for introduction in 2020, as the prime reason for its Sell rating.

The airplane is over the maximum weight allowed in US pilot labor contracts, the so-called Scope Clause, that permits the major airlines to contract out small airplane services to regional carriers.

The Scope Clauses limit the weight of the airplane, the number of passengers and the number of airplanes permitted to be operated by the regional airlines on behalf of the majors.

American pilots say no

“We had been assuming that the pilots would eventually sign off on a weight limit increase, allowing for outsourced “E2” operations,” UBS wrote. “However, our recent meetings with the leadership of AAL’s pilots’ union, indicated that they have no intention of doing so, and our follow-up conversation with John Slattery, the head of ERJ’s Commercial Aerospace business, confirmed this roadblock, not just at AAL, but at DAL/UAL too. We don’t think AAL/DAL/UAL would procure “E2” without the ability to outsource its operation as flying it at the mainline is prohibitively expensive. This puts the viability of the E175-E2 at risk since most of the demand for it originates at those three airlines.”

Embraer recognizes the problem and plans to continue production of an improved E175-E1 if no relief comes on the Scope Clauses.

Embraer stock was of 5% in early trading today.


5 Comments on “UBS puts Sell rating on Embraer

  1. So, what sort of management gambles nearly $2 B on moving the chains on the US scope clauses? Why, an incompetent, reckless one, MT! LOL

    • It is just paperwork to limit the MTOW to the maximum allowed MTOW in the pilot contracts. That would limit the range of the aircraft but would still be enough for probably 98% of the routes flown.
      The same is true for the MRJ90 – so if the rules do not get changed the big winner would be in fact Embraer – and to some extent Bombardier – because they can go on selling the E175E1 and CRJ900.

      • Bjorn did precisely this analysis behind the paywall some weeks back. The E175-E2 still retained reasonable range. The MRJ90’s range was severely limited.

  2. a better compromise for the pilot’s unions and the airlines would be to have the scope clause bounded by # of seats, lbs of cargo and leg length. this would both protect them from encroachment more effectively and give the airlines the freedom to buy the best aircraft for the job.

    MTOW is a coarse measure of payload/range capability which (as we see) is resulting in “regional jets” with nearly transcontinental range.

    these new gen “regional jets” such as the E2 and C-Series are the potential foundation for a new generation of disruptive LCC focusing on small market point to point city pairs or super premium business travel from secondary airports between large city pairs.

  3. And if the Embraer 175 E1 becames the future E 170 E2, combining fly-by-wire, empennage and interior of 175 E2 but retaining wings, GE engines and landing gear? The MTOW limits would be respected with a modernized aircraft.

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