Textron says winning one or two new helicopter programs 'would drive significant growth' for Bell

By Marjorie Censer / July 17, 2019

Textron today reported lower quarterly sales and profit in its Bell Helicopter business, but said new opportunities from the Army and Marine Corps could provide growth.

Textron said sales at Bell during the most recent quarter reached $771 million, down 7% from the same period last year, because of "lower military volume."

The unit's profit declined about 12% in the quarter.

Scott Donnelly, Textron's chief executive, told analysts during a call this morning that Bell's military business benefits from a large installed base of Huey and V-22 helicopters. He said foreign military sales could also boost the unit's work.

But "from a growth standpoint, the opportunities are out there," Donnelly added, pointing to the Army's Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft and Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft programs as well as the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Unmanned Aircraft System Expeditionary, dubbed MUX.

"We're very well positioned on several of those programs," he said. "Will we win them all? Probably not, but these are very large programs so winning one or two of those is what would drive significant growth for Bell."

Donnelly called the Marine Corps' effort to solicit ideas on MUX "a very healthy thing to do."

"I think they're sort of in a fact-finding mode," he added, noting that Textron has done significant work on the MUX concept and would participate in a funded development program.

Meanwhile, Textron said today quarterly sales in its Textron Systems business reached $308 million, down 19% from the same three-month period a year earlier.

The company attributed the sales decline to lower volume at subsidiary TRU Simulation + Training as well as at unmanned systems.

However, Textron Systems reported a profit increase of nearly 23%, which Textron said included a gain related to establishing a new training business with Flight Safety.