Bombardier, Inc. Plummets Yet Again. Will China Come to the Rescue?

Investing in Bombardier, Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) is a boom-or-bust strategy.

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Shares of Bombardier, Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) fell another 13% on Wednesday, as investors increasingly worry that the company won’t be able to survive another year. Over the last 12 months, the company’s stock has fallen roughly 60%, and for good reason.

According to the Bank of Nova Scotia, Bombardier may run out of cash by mid-2016: “Order flow and, hence, advances remain very weak. Unless this changes, Bombardier would need more cash by mid-2016 based on our estimates.”

But will Bombardier be able to find additional sources of cash, avoiding what many believe to be an inevitable bankruptcy?

Crucial financing talks fail

Bombardier has struggled to win orders for the 100-160 seat CSeries, which is stuck in a shrinking market between smaller regional jets and best-selling 150-180 seat models. It has not announced a new order in more than a year. Unfortunately, Bombardier’s development of its CSeries jet line came in at billions over budget and years later than expected, miring the company with debt.

A potential lifeline appeared when, just recently, Bombardier offered to sell a majority stake in its CSeries line to its largest European competitor, Airbus Group SE. Again, it appears as if Bombardier came up short. Airbus and Bombardier issued separate statements on Wednesday, confirming talks, but saying that they had ended. Such a quick resolution for a company ostensibly willing to sell at an attractive price isn’t a good sign.

China to the rescue?

A recent Reuters report said Bombardier is exploring the sale of a stake in any of its business units to a competitor, private-equity firm, or government. Right now, most analysts believe that selling a stake in its business to a Chinese competitor makes the most sense.

In recent weeks, it was revealed that Bombardier had received an offer for its rail business that valued it at $6-8 billion. This would be a game changer for the company. There are some real issues that could take some time to iron out before a deal is done, however.

Many investors are concerned that political issues may delay any agreement. There are also many integration issues that would arise if a merger between Bombardier and a Chinese counterpart is put through. Credit Suisse Group AG said, “A deal with the Chinese seems to make the most sense, but that may be politically impractical from the Canadian government’s perspective.”

While selling a stake or segment is necessary for Bombardier to survive, time is running out.

Is there time?

Last quarter, Bombardier ended with $9 billion in long-term debt and $3.1 billion in cash. It’s concerning, however, that it also generated over $800 million in negative free cash flow. It doesn’t take complex math to figure out that Bombardier needs a cash infusion, and fast.

While the company still has plenty of financing options, many of these may simply take too long. If you want to put money into shares, know that you are making a bet on the company’s survival, not its underlying business.

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 Ryan Vanzo has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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