Where Does Bombardier, Inc. Go From Here?

Through May, Bombardier, Inc. (TSX:BBD.B) experienced something its investors are not used to: calm. Throughout the month, the price barely moved, hovering a few cents in either direction around $2 per share. For those who bought in the beginning of the month, the more than 100% return on money would be very exciting.

However, for those investors who are sitting on their shares–either because they think it can double again or because they bought near $2–the question remains, where will Bombardier go from here?

There’s no denying that the company has experienced somewhat of a turnaround. After being more than two years behind schedule and costing an additional $2 billion, the CSeries jet appears to finally be in a position to shine. A series of great events gave investors hope that perhaps the CSeries would succeed.

First Air Canada gave the company a psychological–and potentially financial–boost when it sent a letter of intent to acquire 45 CSeries jets. While there has been no money transferred from bank accounts yet, this is significant because no airlines had offered any support for over a year.

From there, Air Baltic announced its intentions to convert all of its Latvian aircraft to Bombardier. Unlike Air Canada, this is a firm order for seven CSeries jets, which is small, but still important for the company.

Finally, Bombardier was given a five-star feast when Delta Air Lines Inc. signed a 75 order. This is important for two reasons. First, it is the largest single order of CSeries jets from any airline. Secondly, Bombardier wanted to have over 300 orders in place before the plane went into service. With these 75 planes, it’s over that number.

But here’s where things get bad…

How much of a discount off the cost of the plane did Bombardier have to give these companies to get them to sign their letters of intent and acquire the planes? Reuters has suggested that the discounts could be upward of 75%, which is 25% more than the industry average of 50% off list price. Management doesn’t seem concerned though; they asserted that profitability in the CSeries division will be possible by 2020.

So we’re left wondering whether we should buy shares of this company or if it’s better to sit on the sidelines and watch. Many investors have gotten rich buying stocks before the vast majority of investors; therefore, it might be easy to present an argument to buy Bombardier.

However, I’m not convinced yet. It has been dealing with delays with a streetcar deal in Toronto where it was supposed to have already delivered all the cars, but is nowhere near complete with delivery. Then there’s the fact that London had to pay it to go away because it failed miserably to upgrade the automatic train control in the London Underground. You don’t want to be paid to disappear. And finally, it’s competing with China for projects in Boston and Chicago that, in the past, it would have won. On top of all of this, it is sitting on US$9 billion in debt.

Here’s my stance on buying these shares:

They are very risky and Bombardier can still fail. However, if you believe Air Canada, Air Baltic, and Delta are going to follow through and buy the planes, you may want to pick up some shares. And if you believe Bombardier can turn its rail division around, pick up a few more. But understand that until the company starts to really sell, it’s all talk, and I don’t like investing in talk.

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Fool contributor Jacob Donnelly has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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