By Scott Hamilton
A few companies already raised red flags. Boeing said it will report a loss in the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, because of problems at Spirit AeroSystem. Spirit Aero builds the entire fuselage for the Boeing 737 and the nose sections for the Boeing 787, 777, and 767/KC-46A. Spirit Aero has been plagued with quality control issues, delaying deliveries and requiring rework of planes already produced or in final assembly at Boeing.
When Spirit Aero sneezes, Boeing can catch the cold.
The aforementioned problems continue to push Spirit Aero into financial disarray. LNA has reported extensively on its financial condition and trends.
Another Spirit, the US-based ultra-low-cost airline, is also headed in the wrong direction. LNA doesn’t normally cover airline earnings—there are plenty of outlets that do—but in this case, Spirit Airlines has a major outstanding order from Airbus. Spirit Airlines is also the subject of a merger application with JetBlue, another major Airbus customer.
Spirit Airlines recently adjusted its third quarter guidance significantly downward. It now forecasts a 3Q loss margin of 14.5% to 15.5%, nearly triple the same period last year. A year ago, LNA expressed concerns over the proposed merger between JetBlue and Spirit (JetBlue was the bidding company). Our concerns have deepened. JetBlue may be well advised to exercise a clause that is presumed to be in the merger agreement: Material Adverse Change. Withdrawing from the merger may well be the best course for JetBlue. Acquiring Spirit Airlines may well be a financial black hole for JetBlue.
The supply chain remains stressed. As in the case of Spirit Aero and Boeing, if any key supplier falls down on the job, the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) catches cold.
Here’s a rundown of companies to watch.