Since the tech bubble of 2000, shares in Bombardier (TSX: BBD.B) have been a terrible place to invest. The company reached a peak of $26 that year, and has steadily lost value ever since. Sure, there have been periods where the stock did well — namely 2009 to 2011 — but for the most part investors in the company have had a disappointing ride.
Despite a terrible performance for more than a decade, there are many reasons to be bullish on Bombardier. I’ve identified four reasons why investors should consider buying the stock at today’s prices.
February was a bad month for the company, as it announced that its long awaited CSeries aircraft wouldn’t be ready for delivery until the second half of 2015, a delay of six months from the original delivery target. Since sales of this new aircraft are expected to make up a big portion of the company’s growth, investors send the shares reeling on the news.
But this delay didn’t do much to dampen the enthusiasm Bombardier’s customers have towards this new aircraft. No customers have cancelled orders, and the company still has orders for about 200 CSeries jets in its backlog. Yes, this is below the company’s expectations of 300, but it still represents a solid start.
The company is doing a smart thing by delaying the aircraft until all the kinks are ironed out. It shows the company cares about getting it right, and more importantly, the safety of everyone who will end up riding on its planes.
Investors who get in now will reap the gains when the CSeries does finally start being delivered to customers. If investors wait until it starts to happen, it’ll be too late.
Public transport growth
Bombardier has perhaps the best positioned to take advantage of a huge growth trend in public transit.
Cities around the world are expanding their public transportation systems because of environmental concerns, traffic congestion, and population leaving rural areas for the opportunities of a metropolis. Congestion is just beginning to become a problem in North America, but in Europe it’s been a problem for years. Most Asian cities weren’t designed for the traffic volume they’re now experiencing as well.
Add all this up, and it’s obvious cities will continue to expand public transport options. This is obviously good news for Bombardier’s transportation division, one of the leaders in this space. Bombardier’s rail business continues to make money, essentially holding up the company until it switches from the R&D portion of CSeries development to production.
In 2013, Westjet (TSX: WJA) announced it would expand its service from major cities to some of Canada’s smaller communities. While Westjet’s foray into this regional business has been slow so far, the company sees potential for many additional routes. Air Canada (TSX: AC.B) also is in the regional business, with mixed results.
Westjet has decided to exclusively use Bombardier prop planes for its regional business, and Air Canada is a big customer as well. Not only will growth in the Canadian regional market be positive for Bombardier, but many carriers around the world are looking at similar options in their own countries.
While Bombardier is sitting on more debt than I’d usually like to see ($6.9 billion, about 90% of its market cap), it offsets that with more than $4 billion in cash. The balance sheet certainly could be worse.
Investors sometimes talk about Bombardier like it’s bleeding cash, but it’s actually consistently profitable, thanks to that transportation division. The company made 31 cents per share in 2013, putting it at just over 13 times earnings. Earnings could shoot up substantially in 2015 once it starts getting paid for CSeries jets.
Foolish bottom line
I’ll admit, Bombardier’s short-term outlook is tepid at best. CSeries delays have weighed on the stock, and rightfully so. Investors everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief once the company starts delivering jets to waiting customers.
But investors who can look past this uncertainty can pick up a solid company that’s a leader in two different market segments, and has an obvious upcoming catalyst to lead it higher. In order to participate in that, investors need to buy now, while the future still looks murky.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.
Fool contributor Nelson Smith has no position in any stock mentioned in this article.